Memorial Day affects people in different ways. There’s the pride of having fought for one’s country. There’s the remembrance of bravery and courage under astounding odds. There’s the chauvism of those who believe wars are necessary . . . and the fury of those who believe they’re not.
For me, this year, there’s heartbreak.
The other night, I went to our local school board meeting. In addition to the issue I wanted to address, there was a ceremony to commemorate the Albuquequerque Public School graduates who have died in the Iraq war so far.
A high school honor guard started the service. The commander yelled his incomprehensible instructions with precision in a high monotone. The slap and clack of guns being cocked and handled filled the air. The thump-thump of marching feet brought a hint of military parading to the proceedings. The boys presented the colors, holding the flags at 75-degree angles and then resting the poles on the floor. Each teen stared straight ahead, emotionless, head shaven and mouth set in a hard line.
Every one of them looked so young to me . . .
As a parent, I trembled with the thought of losing my own children to a sniper’s bullet or a roadside bomb. I could hardly breathe, thinking about one of those kids before me — without legs or arms.
As a writer, I imagined what it would be like to say goodbye to a child, knowing that he or she was deliberately going into harm’s way. No matter what the reason or rationale, it would tear me apart.
That night, I cried . . .
All of us probably have compelling and oft-opposing takes on this particular war — and I don’t want this post to be a discussion about that. It’s not my purpose today.
Instead, no matter what you feel, please join me in taking a moment to remember all of those young people — the sons, daughters, sisters and brothers — in this century and those before, who lost their lives far too soon.
(The photos can be seen in context at these links:
children’s peace statue in Santa Fe, NM)
Well said, Pari.Amen.
I just wish we had a day to honor peace as much as we do these valiant fallen.
Thank you, Elaine and J.T. I can’t express how sad I felt seeing those young men. For some reason, it really drove it home.
Louise,A day to honor peace? Now, THAT would be a superb national holiday.
May we not forget.http://www.oldbeeg.com/MemorialDay.html
Thank you, B.G.
Well, I don’t mind saying – it disgusts and enrages me that we’re sending CHILDREN to war. I don’t think war should be ever be fought unless the people who authorize it are in the very front ranks.
Between the barbeques and the travel and the blockbuster movies, it’s easy to forget what this day is really all about.
Thanks Pari for reminding us.
X,Yesterday at a party, I got into a conversation with a staunch — and I mean “STAUNCH” — Democrat who thinks we should reinstate the draft so that everyone pays more attention to this war . . . so that EVERYONE is directly affected by the human consequences. Put in that light, I have to agree.
Mike,You’re welcome. It’s going to hit you more and more as your little one grows up. I’m staggered at how hard it hit me this year.
Ah Pari, thank you. My mother served in WWII, my partner served in Germany and Korea, her brother has been to Iraq twice so far, and you can imagine our dismay when our youngest, who’s 17, said he wanted to join. The hardest thing we ever had to do was support him in his decision. Fortunately, with time and love and patience and lots of reasoned dialogue, we’ve managed to change his mind, but oh for a while…
So thank you!
Fran,You’re welcome, my friend.
May all of those who have served and died . . . rest in peace.
May all of us who live . . . find peace, true peace, in our lifetime so that no others will be taken from their loved ones too soon.
That’s the prayer on my lips tonight.
I think it’s easy sometimes for people to forget, in the midst of the debates about the pros and cons of the war, that each of the soldiers who go halfway around the world to fight are someone’s children, someone’s parents, someone’s sisters and brothers and friends and neighbors. It’s easy sometimes to talk about “the military” as a monolithic entity, and to forget that it’s composed of *people*. Thank you, Pari, for reminding us.
A dear friend of mine, who’s raising a biological daughter of her own and just completed adoption proceedings on two other kids, is leaving for a six-month tour in Iraq on Saturday. She works in military justice and will be stationed someplace relatively safe (as war zones go), but I don’t mind at all admitting that I’m still terrified for her.
Wonderful, wonderful post.
Last week my six-year-old’s school had a patriotic themed open house. I was required to scramble for a photo or two of family members who have served in the military. I solicited help from my in-laws. Imagine my surprise when I gathered photos of nine different people in three generations on my husband’s side. I have a couple of veterans on my side of the family, but I was shocked to see how deep the military service ran on his side of the family. It may have been a project for my daughter’s school, but I was the one who learned something!
Thank you again for reminding us all that memorial day is not about remembering to take the meat off the barbecue before it burns.
Oh, Tammy,Please know I wish your friend all safety and the best.
My father, stepdad, goddad and mom are all buried at the military cemetary in Santa Fe. Mom didn’t serve but was affected by my dad’s stint since that’s how they both came to NM.
It’s something to think of one’s parents as that young, too.