Memorial in Perpetuity

As veterans we see the empty places in our ranks where friends once stood. We see shadows when we remember something funny with them and start to laugh realizing only you will be laughing. And we look across the table or the bar stool next to you and realize that it’s filled with another you don’t recognize because your brother hasn’t been there for a while.

As veterans we see the emptiness, loss, and the real meaning of Memorial Day and for us it is painful, bittersweet, and lonely. To have this day ‘to honor the fallen’ seems like a good thing. But it’s more of a economical holiday that does everything but remind people that someone’s life was given for your freedom. But that is lost these days.

A paratrooper I know visits the graves of each of his fallen brothers and sisters. If there is no grave he visits a spot they shared in their past. He leaves a can of beer and a cigarette laying in top of the can. Then he sits and has a drink and a smoke with his friend. He has done this every year for the last 40 years. This is our Memorial Day. A painful reminder of the sacrifice some have made. They gave all and we must make sense of it. This is where we struggle. ~ MJ

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