Today marks the start of Memorial Day weekend. It is a day and a weekend that is, in many ways, schizophrenic.
On the one hand, the three-day Memorial Day weekend is seen by many as the unofficial start of summer. It means camping, grilling, and drinking (although it could be asked who needs a holiday weekend for that). For those of us with children still in school, it also means we're just about at the start of summer vacation, and for some, the panic as to how to find their child's time.
On the other hand, the holiday itself is a day for remembering and reflecting on the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in the military service of this nation. I suspect for most of us, while this aspect of the holiday is there on the periphery of our consciousness, the thoughts will be more of getting outside and spending time with family.
Not that there is anything wrong with that. (I know I've often had this mindset.) After all, the freedom to do just that is part of what so many men and women fought and died to protect.
It is also true that most of us have never and will never serve in the military. I have never served, although I came close a couple of times. The draft was eliminated the year before I turned 18, although I did still have to register just in case.
Several years later, I considered enlisting in the Navy because my first go-round in college had not gone so well, and I was interested in a career writing, something I was told I could get training for as part of my service. That flirtation with military service ended when I decided not to sign the enlistment papers after it was suggested I not mention any physical ailments and injuries I had.
As a result, I never served. Nor did my father; he was old enough to serve in World War II, but could not pass the physical. While some other members of my family have served in the military, most of them did so either in times of peace or when I was far away from them and unaware.
Perhaps because of that lack of proximity, I and many others tend to forget or at least not fully grasp the true reason for the holiday. Allow me to remedy that now.
To those of you who have served or currently serve in the military, thank you for your service. To those of you with family members who have served or who currently serve in the military, thank you for sharing them with the nation.
Finally, for those of you with family members who paid the ultimate price for our freedom, thank you for their sacrifice. That gratitude seems a small enough price to pay in return for the price they and you have paid. The nation is in your debt.