Memorial Day- Honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice

Monday, May 27, 2013

As a child, as far back as I can remember, I spent Memorial Day placing flags in cemeteries. For some reason it was important to my father, so it was something we did. I am not sure that I ever really understood my place in all the ceremony. Neither of my grandfathers had served in a war. I had Uncles who had, but it was all pretty far removed for a young girl to grasp.

I know Memorial Day is to honor all those we've lost, not just veterans. But every year, it is that image that is most prominent in our country- that of someone placing a flag in remembrance of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

I told madpoet I wanted to write about this, but I was not sure it would be well received. After all, I do not have any issue at all with those who want to honor those who serve. What I do have a problem with, is that I know there are a lot of 'walking wounded' in our country who also served, and once they get home- alive and well- we pretty much forget all about them.

When I see a post on facebook that says 'how many likes for this brave soldier' I want to support that. I feel that anyone who gives of themselves in service to others- military or not- is doing a noble thing. What I have problems with is knowing if I posted a photo of a homeless or drug addicted or mentally ill soldier who was no longer in uniform and posted it on facebook asking for 'likes', I'd get a very different response. They are the invisible veterans we don't talk about. We don't put them on television or the internet and talk about their sacrifice. We don't follow them home- out of uniform- back into the world. We don't see how they are adapting or adjusting.  Are they financially stable? Are their families okay? Do they need mental health services? Do they need medication they can't afford? Do they need job training? Do they need a place to live?

When I was taking a census of homelessness in our town, I was working at the local food bank for a couple weeks, and I was surprised at how many of the men there told me they were veterans. From those who were in their 50's or above to a young man in his 20's, both of these men were homeless. Both were living in their cars in winter- the elder one resigned to this life- the younger hopeful things would change for him and his pregnant girlfriend.

I know memorial day is about those who come home with their lives over. I believe it's an important holiday to respect. But I wish we would spend a little more time worrying about those who are living back home- and struggling to survive.  They gave their time in service, too, they just came home with wounds we don't see- or at least prefer not to.

1 comment :

  1. For many years, I offered up my home and kitchen for soldiers traveling through. In those days, MySpace was the online place to hang out. I connected with single soldiers and families alike. When they were traveling through, I asked that they stop by for a home cooked meal and inviting conversation.

    And I met many people who experienced a life far detached from the comforts of my own. I honor them for all they give - and that they allowed me to give in return - from my heart.


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