Across the United States, families gather today to have fun. Without detracting from the value of laughter and celebration, I pause to remember why we have Memorial Day. President Harry Truman said, “America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.”
I have never been to war. The concepts of living in constant danger along with the threat of being ordered to carry out demands that seem unseasonable do not fit my safe and cozy view of life. Yet, even as I honor those who died, I must also realize that many veterans return from the hell of war and live among us. Some exist without dignity on our streets. Many suffer in silence from injuries not always visible. As I consider the truth of Truman’s words, I want to honor those with tormenting memories as well as those who died. Most served with courage and “determination to do the job at hand”. Saying thank you feels inadequate.
And so from my comfortable advantage, what is my job at hand?
I seek to honor those who gave by insisting on simple, unvarnished truth. Statements minus truth deny courage, imagination, and determination.
I honor the sacrifices of veterans by acknowledging that many of our own citizens in the United States live in war zones every day. In the safety of my home, I tend to forget the fact of injustice all around me.
I want to honor veterans by caring more about human dignity than about opportunities to make money or claim dominance.
When people thank my husband for his service, he asks them to vote. Yes, vote. I add, vote for those who honor people more than the accumulation of stuff or prestige. Vote for individuals who tell the truth.
Memorial Day encourages a day of celebration. In addition, I hope that through the day, I can remember to appreciate all who served as well as those who continue to serve with their own personal courage, imagination and determination.
God bless America, the home of the free and the brave.