Just this past week, my son went on his eight grade Washington D.C. trip. He won an essay contest about patriotism & sacrifice and was chosen with three other students to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery. It was a once in a lifetime honor and I’m an extremely proud father. Not just because he did this, but more so because he understands the significance.
As I watched video of my son laying the wreath on the Tomb, I thought about the soldier in that Tomb. No one knows his name or where he’s from. But also - somewhere there’s a father, mother, son, or daughter who is wondering if that is the remains of their Loved One in that Tomb.
The servicemen & women who have died for our country have given us a tremendous gift, but the loved ones that they’ve left behind have also sacrificed for the Red, White, and Blue. They are wives who’ve struggled to raise a family as a single parent. They are sons and daughters who don’t have a father to cheer for them on the sidelines of a soccer game or a mother to nurture them and hold them when they cry. They are dads who don’t get to walk their daughters down the aisle and moms that don’t get flowers from their sons on Mother’s Day.
There are families that have been able to bring their Loved One home and honor them in a military burial. But there are those who have lost that have never recovered any remains. All they have is a memory and the hope that one day, they’ll be found.
So this Memorial Day, before you baste that first chicken-wing with BBQ sauce on the grill, before the friends and family come over, and even before you ice the beer in the cooler - drop your head for a moment and remember our fallen soldiers. Say a little thank you for their sacrifice. And remember those that they’ve left behind.
Wal Ozello is the author of the science fiction time travel books, Assignment 1989 and Revolution 1990 and a frequent customer at Colin's Coffee. He’s never served in the military, but is extremely grateful for the men and women who have served.