It is a sign of our times that my daughter believes her day off is due to another teacher work day. Somewhere along the way we lost the reason for this day and the meaning behind service in general. In a culture that worships money and power (my daughter just told me she wants to spell her name like the singer Ke$ha), few of us recognize the value of doing something for the sake of altruism.
Yet, we are reminded today that there are some among us who still do exactly this. Our military personnel do not put themselves in harms’way for the pay, certainly. And anymore even glory is missing from the equation. The
truth is, we as a country need these men and women who recognize that service to country and fellow man is critical for protecting the freedoms we frequently take for granted.
I have written before about the pain of war…. A pain I feel that is no longer shared by the masses, but is accepted by those who least deserve it. They are the ones who know that freedom and liberty take work and sacrifice. They and their families pay for our ability to go to work unafraid, no matter what our job; to protest the 1% or the cost of obesity; to write our blogs and our tweets and our Facebook posts without fear of retaliation by our government or by those who hold opposing beliefs.
My daughter does not know what a victory garden is nor why it was ever necessary. She does not know how many servicemen and women are still fighting for us around the world (there were over 1.4 million active service members as of March 31, 2012 – in case you wondered: from the Statistical Information Analysis Division of the Department of Defense.) Most importantly, until now she did not know that it has been a tradition on this day to remember and honor our dead service members at cemeteries around the U.S..
No, I tell her…this is not a vacation day; remembering takes work.
Eulogy for a Veteran by Unknown
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the Gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the mornings hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.