“Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
It’s been more than 70 days since I sat down in that chair and laced up those boots. I think that’s the longest I’ve gone without putting on my boots since I was 17 – and I just turned 40 this year. Even during my stints at grad school, I threw on the uniform once or twice a month to help our ROTC program with whatever they might need – extra cadre for an event, an additional trainer, a speaker who was at least a different face from the usual line-up.
But no, here I am, and for the last 70 days, my boots and uniform have been in my cedar trunk to keep them from collecting too much dust, and I’ve been traipsing around in socks, flip flops, running shoes, and my bare feet. I’ve been letting my hair grow long and having a blast with all you guys here, talking about brownies and tacos and donuts.
But while I might be over here gleefully talking about brownies and tacos and donuts, the farthest thing from what I normally talk about at work, I’m also on a half-dozen calls a day, in socks, flip flops, running shoes, or bare feet, talking about work. My crazy life at home isn’t all that different from your crazy life at home right now. Which, I think, is an important point today.
Whether we’re in uniform or not, we are human. We have friends, families, joys, hobbies, ambitions, and dreams that are all unique to us, and yet not unique to humanity. But all of these things drive us to one common calling – service.
We are nearly 1.4 million American citizens, active duty, reserve, and National Guard, serving the country today. We are at home, deployed abroad, and deployed in support of this latest crisis affecting the country, serving in hospitals, building hospitals, and supporting state and federal government agencies with some of the things we do best – particularly field medicine and logistics. We deploy in support of humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions more than any other.
But as much as people would like to make today about all service members, today is not that day. Today, Memorial Day, we stop to remember the nearly 660,000 of those service members who have lost their lives in service to this country, from the days of the American Revolution to present day.
You know all of these people. Sons and daughters. Cousins. Fathers and mothers. Friends. Or just people you met around town, going about their business, whatever that might have been, before lacing up their boots, whatever fashion they were at the time, and going to work. To serve.
And while a lot of us will be out there as well, enjoying the weather, starting up our grills, and welcoming the “unofficial start of summer,” I would just ask that my American readers take a moment to remember that there are 660,000 people who gave their lives in defense of this country and its ideals, from 1776 onward, and that they were you and me and all of us, some who joined by choice, some not, some who believed strongly enough in the ideals of this country to sacrifice their lives for it, and some who just wanted to protect their comrades in arms.
All of them are worth remembering. And today, we remember.