The older I get, the more I learn about the remarkable deeds of our military service men and women since the founding of our great nation: Their courage, valor, suffering and sacrifice, often exhibited against long odds and in harsh conditions.
Today, we take time to remember our fallen heroes and recognize that our freedom and high quality of life would not be possible were it not for the selfless, courageous acts and character of millions of our nation's finest. These dedicated individuals were devoted to a cause greater than themselves, to use a well-worn, albeit useful cliché.
Memorial Day to me is like Good Friday. It is a time for solemn reflection, for acknowledging the physical suffering, psychological pain, and loss of life of far too many wonderful human beings, as well as the devastated families they left behind. It is a time of taking stock, contemplating perspective, counting blessings.
If people want to get drunk, hang out at the beach, sleep 'til noon or sit around watching sports on TV, that's their prerogative. But it does one good to pause and reflect upon the suffering and sacrifice endured by Americans in the armed forces -- men and women who stoically did their duty and accepted their fate. Think about what it was like for young men -- often teenagers -- who bravely entered hellacious killing zones such as Normandy in June 1944, knowing full well they would probably never see their parents, siblings or spouses again.
Maybe you can't place some flowers at the gravestone of a military veteran -- work, family commitments or a broken down car might be to blame. And in these tough economic times, you might not be able to contribute money to groups such as Disabled American Veterans or the National Military Family Association.
But the least we can do is take a few moments to appreciate those who gave their all on our behalf. If you believe in God, say a brief prayer for deceased military personnel and their families. And why not put forth some effort to learn about the horrors of war suffered by Americans in places like Omaha Beach, Iwo Jima, Fallujah, Peliliu, Khe Sanh, Flanders Field and Gettysburg.
Humility and gratitude are definitely in order on this important day. Thank you, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guard and Airmen. May God Bless America.