My father is still very much alive, and served in the Navy during the Viet Nam years (when I was born). My "little" brother is currently in the Air Force, and has been for almost all his married life, having joined in his late teens. Sundry other relatives on both sides of the family have served in other branches: Marines, Army, and Coast Guard. I, however, have only been able to support and admire them, which I do with all my heart.
There's a stone-walled national cemetery in the city where I work, and it's decked out in American flags, the gates flung wide even at night this weekend. When Mom and I drove past on our way home from Arizona, we saw someone drive through the gates and down the lit, flag-lined drive at around 9:30 p.m., an older gentleman going to pay his respects.
I have taken kids from the youth center there for photography trips, and they are always fascinated by the headstones and the history, and I relish the opportunities to speak with them about patriotism, sacrifice, honor, heroism, and other old-fashioned, high-sounding concepts that seem to have lost their meaning (especially among civilians) in this modern age.
A Memorial Day poem:
M is for mothers who sent their children off to war
E is for the everlasting gift of freedom
M is for the mums that decorate the graves of the soldiers
O is for the old men that are veterans
I is for the island off Hawaii where the Japanese bombed Pearl harbor
A is for America, the home of the brave
L is for the land of the free© 2001 Anna, 3rd Grader, Academy Elementary School, Madison, Connecticut.
May we never forget.