Today is Memorial Day, I started my day at 8am working a Murph Challenge in honor of Lt. Michael Murphy (whose heroic actions during Operation Red Wing made him a Medal of Honor Recipient) and ended my day visiting Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.
Sadly in the United States, Memorial day has become a summer kick off party instead. It is just a long weekend to go to the lake, drink and BBQ or take a weekend trip. Memorial day isn't supposed to be a day to forget about the real world. Its supposed to be a day to remember whats been given to allow you to go to the lake, have a long weekend, take a vacation and go out and BBQ.
There have been over 600,000 men and women killed since World War I. That 600,000+ group of people singed over their life for this country, for us and for our future. They may have been just 18 with their whole lives ahead of them or may have been 40 something with a spouse and children.
It takes a true hero and a an amazing individual to stand up and say "I volunteer, I know the cost but I will go."
I live very close to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, so close that I'm there at least once a week. Typically when I go I may see 1 or 2 cars. Today to my surprise there were countless cars. Its amazing to see on Memorial day, but its sad that it isn't like that everyday.
While I was at JB I saw two things that really just upset me to the point of anger (which lets be honest here it really doesn't take much, I've gotten my brothers Army attitude over the years). There was a group of people sitting on headstones. SITTING ON HEADSTONES AT A NATIONAL CEMETERY. Then just a few minutes later there was another group smoking while other families were trying to visit the graves of the fallen. This place is supposed to be sacred ground, it is a place of honor, reverence and respect. As the sister of a soldier and a granddaughter to both a World War II veteran(who is buried at the cemetery) and a Korean War Veteran. I found it so disrespectful.
That is the problem with people, a lack of respect. The number of people who recognize Memorial day is dropping each year, my personal age group is the least represented. We have become a generation that expects things and are hand held through everything. Obviously I'm not talking about every member but a large percentage. We have forgotten where we as Americans came from and what had to be give for us to get to where we are.
I think Americans who don't have/had someone in the military really struggle with the concept of the cost of our freedoms. When someone you know could be taken from you at any moment you tend to get a greater appreciation, when you don't have any risks involved why should you stress? I was raised to appreciate the military and when my brother deployed that respect doubled, I know the cost of war, I've said goodbye knowing it could be the last time to see my brother, I've stood on the side of a road while a local soldier was taken to their final resting place and I've driven every road of Jefferson Barracks Cemetery.
The Price of war and freedom is more than just added national debt or a never ending list of countries that "dislike" America. It is fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, cousins, nephews, nieces, granddaughters, grandsons, and friends. So many men and women sacrificed so we can be free, so we can enjoy life, so we could go to school and so we can have basic rights so many don't have. Memorial day is a day-ONE DAY- to honor that sacrifice and those who are currently serving.
It is an easy thing to shake a veterans hand, visit a cemetery, volunteer with the USO, or send a simple care package to a deployed soldier. So remember while you are out at a BBQ, on the lake, on vacation, out shopping some great sale or having a few beers with friends...that countless lives were sacrificed to allow you to enjoy these things. Remember that we are a country still at war and there are men and women away from families who need your support.
Wounded Warrior Project says it best with "the greatest causality is being forgotten"
Don't forget the sacrifice, don't forget the real price of war, and always show respect to your fellow people and especially while visiting a national cemetery.