Yes, of course I have a routine on this holiday. The whole weekend is planned out usually. That’s because, while I’m not as big of a racing fan as I once was, when I lived in a town that had an Indy Car owner living there (who ended up winning the Indy 500 one year), it still is a fun race to watch. No, I don’t know the racers like I used to. I used to know a lot of them personally when they’d come to Michigan International Speedway, and I’d get to cover the “Michigan 500” (I have no idea what it’s called now). Now, I barely know the names, but I still enjoy the sport.
But throughout this weekend, I have one thing I always do. It’s as ingrained in my being as much as having a hot dog or a hamburger on the grill. I take time out and I remember those that gave the ultimate sacrifice because it’s their sacrifice that allows me to live out here in the desert and not worry about my freedom. It’s because they felt that our collective freedom was more important than their individual life that we are here today able to do everything we can do. And it’s only right on this Memorial Day to pause at some point and thank their memories.
I particularly think of a guy that was several years older than me. He was the son of a college president, and he enrolled in the Marines back in Vietnam. He knew he was going there. But he went because he felt it was his duty. And yes, he lost his life in Southeast Asia. I think it was around late October, because I remember his mother putting a basket of candy out on their front porch with a note asking us kids not to ring the doorbell. They just didn’t feel like celebrating Halloween that year. I think of Jack often. We used to go to their cottage on Lake Michigan for the weekend and enjoyed it immensely. They were terrific people…so terrific that Jack’s father, the college president, ended up marrying my wife and I (he was an ordained minister as well).
I think about Jack a lot on Memorial Days. I think of what he did that I didn’t do. I think of the sacrifice he made that I doubt I ever could have made. I thank him silently, because I know he’s looking down on us. And I know he hears. I think he was the only guy I knew personally that was ever killed in Vietnam. The war ended in 1973, while I was still in high school, so my class never got drafted, or had to go over there. But I’ve worked with several fine folks that have. My next door neighbor here in the desert was in Vietnam, and I think of him at this point as well. He passed away two years ago this August, and I always remind myself to thank Chuck as well.
Take a minute today and thank someone that you know that isn’t with us any longer, but served. They didn’t have to die in battle like Jack. They could have come home and lived a productive life, like Chuck. But they served. They sacrificed. They protected. They deserve our respect, and our thoughts and prayers.
May you have a Happy Memorial Day!
Carry on world…but today, you’re NOT dismissed!