It is so easy to look upon Memorial Day as just another day off, a three-day weekend that serves as a sort of gateway to the summer. Here in Michigan, folks love camping, hunting, fishing, going to the beach, and spending time "Up North" in our beautiful state. Because our winters are harsh, we thoroughly enjoy spring and summer.
But it is my hope that the majority of Americans will take at least a few moments to remember the significance of Memorial Day. Perhaps say a prayer for the heartbroken family members who have lost a loved one who was serving our country. Or at least spend some time thinking or reading about the hardships, sacrifice, and suffering so many fine young people have endured so that we might enjoy our back yard barbecues, time at the beach, or baseball and softball games.
I have long thought that the more we become aware of history, the less likely we are to whine and complain. For it will become readily apparent to anyone who takes just a cursory glance at history's horrors that we Americans are profoundly blessed. The valor, dedication and selfless sacrifice of our men and women in uniform earned and continues to protect our precious freedom.
A guy with whom I used to be close friends (his left-wing tendencies and opinionated, stubborn ways finally turned me off) got upset one time when I complained about an inane left wing bumper sticker that said something like: "Too bad we don't spend trillions on education and make the Pentagon hold bake sale fundraisers."
That is so incredibly idiotic and insipid, it almost doesn't deserve a response. But I pointed out the obvious, that if it weren't for our strong defense, the teachers wouldn't have the right to teach a broad curriculum in a free society. They wouldn't have the right to criticize our government, or present both sides of various issues. Everything would be force-fed from Big Brother, Cuban style.
Perhaps my exasperation got the better of me and I made some very disparaging remarks about teachers' unions or something like that. Whatever it was, my friend got upset that I wasn't acknowledging the need for more education spending (He didn't seem to realize that we keep throwing more and more money into the education black hole, without getting better results.) I think this particular incident was one of several within a few months that caused us to drift further apart. We used to send birthday cards to each other, and chat on the phone. But we haven't seen each other in several years, and never talk on the phone anymore.
Why do I digress? To illustrate the point that I get angry at people who do not appreciate the need for a strong defense, do not recognize the service and sacrifice of our veterans, and seem to regard Pentagon bloat, waste, and corruption as "givens" -- their default position about defense spending.
I might add that the people currently serving and retired veterans whom I have had the pleasure to meet, as well as those I've seen on TV or read about in the paper, have all greatly impressed me by their demeanor and respectful behavior (on top of the considerable sacrifices they make for love of country, and their willingness to put themselves in harm's way to protect and defend our nation).
In an age when so many folks like to "toot their own horn" with self-absorbed Facebook hype, YouTube videos, and talent contests such as "American Idol," it is great to know that humble people still exist. Indeed, the character of our service men and women, and their commitment to put others before themselves, are the qualities that make their loss all the more painful.
Our nation has not just lost 5,469 average Joe's in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus tens of thousands more in Vietnam, Korea, World Wars I and II, and other conflicts....We have lost the best of the best.
Today, let us ponder the enormity of our loss, and be grateful for the blessings we enjoy thanks to veterans.