What are you supposed to do and feel on Memorial Day?
There are conflicting opinions as to what this day should be about. On one hand it’s a celebration. Barbecues, cookouts, parades, the unofficial start to summer…Memorial Day is festive, no doubt about it. But on the other hand, some people think there should be no smiles on Memorial Day. After all, this is a day to honor our veterans, both living and dead. So naturally some people view it as a somber day of reflection to think back on the incredible sacrifices our soldiers made, and are still making.
But as for me? I’m sponging off veterans and eating their food.
I’m staying with Victor and Alicia Banks in North Carolina. Alicia is MJ’s oldest friend, and they instantly became two of my favorite people the moment I met them. They have a son, my godson Victor III, who is 10 months older than Will. Although Alicia grew up near my hometown, Victor is from North Carolina and they live in Fayetteville near Fort Bragg.
They both have tours of duty in Iraq, and Victor was also in Kuwait, Turkey and Kosovo. I don’t ask them too many questions about what they did and saw while deployed. Partly because I don’t want to upset them but also because it would keep me up at night. All I know is they’ve lost people dear to them in combat, and that is something I can’t even begin to fathom. They’ve also given up large chunks of their lives for jackasses like me, which is a sacrifice the likes of which I’m not even sure I’m capable.
Obviously, they survived their stints at war. And my godson is the result. For that, I am eternally thankful because I worried about their safety every single day they were gone. Now don’t get me wrong, I love all the parades, ceremonies, flyovers, etc. I think that stuff is important and I think it’s great. Anything that raises awareness of the job our soldiers are doing is a good thing.
But today, while watching Will and Vic battle like wolverines over toys play together, I realized there might be no better way to celebrate Memorial Day. Because there are far too many stories of the men and women who didn’t make it back, leaving their kids minus a parent. I tried to keep that in mind today, and remember how lucky I am.
So I celebrated today. I celebrated our kids being able to play together in a free society. And while I kept all the fallen veterans of war in my mind and heart, I put the gifts they gave us to good use. And damned if there isn’t a picture that expresses that better than this:
Hope you all celebrated Memorial Day in a similar fashion.