With all of the political debates going on these days, dividing Americans and stirring up passion and emotion, it can be refreshing to think what it is that has held us together as a country, and who we pay tribute to this Memorial Day: our veterans.
This is our most immense national debt. One which increases everyday, and can never be repaid. Only with our thoughts, prayers, memories and support can we begin to scratch the surface of repaying the debt we owe to our men and women in uniform, past and present.
My paternal granfather, Stan Grimes is among those who sacrificed so much for the cause of our freedom. He served in the European Theatre of Operations in the Second World War – in Algeria, Tunisia, Italy, France and Germany. He did not pay the ultimate sacrifice as so many like him did in the war, but today we remember him and those who did.
When we were twenty-three…
I was thinking about where to spend my summer vacation after my senior year in college;
You were crossing the Atlantic with your men on the USS Cristobol.
I was applying to graduate school at Miami University;
You were helping establish a beachhead in Nazi occupied North Africa.
I was deciding what classes to take now that my first semester was coming to a close;
You were defending the airstrip at Mostaganem from nighttime attacks by the Luftwaffe.
When we were twenty-four..
I was saying goodbye to old friends as graduation came and went;
You were huddled in a foxhole while bombs fell on Monte Cassino.
I was driving to Massachusetts for my summer job at camp;
You were landing at Marseilles – ready to push towards the Siegfried line and into Nazi Germany.
I was finding it a challenge to keep up with all of the readings in my economics classes;
You were liberating the camp at Stuttgart -witnessing atrocities that few in the world had ever seen.
And then came the day…
I stood by with pride as the guns rang out in the crisp November air;
And you were laid to rest under the flag you had so honorably served.
What a story. What a soldier. What an American. What a life.
Consider making this Memorial Day more than a fishing trip, a picnic, or an extra day off work. Tell a veteran how much you appreciate their service, pay respects to a soldier’s grave, say a prayer for our men and women overseas – we owe them much more than this – but what they have given, we can not give back.