I haven’t served in the military and I’m not from a military family, so the true meaning of Memorial Day is not one I’ve had to experience on a deep emotional level. I don’t know that this is good or bad; I suspect it just is what it is given that we all have our unique paths through the world, although I’m not opposed to the idea of facing less tragedy in life rather than more. I also don’t believe this particular void in my own life experience bars me from having and expressing my opinions about the way our military forces are recruited, deployed, and treated upon their return – it’s one of those rights that our servicemen and servicewomen are explicitly charged with protecting, after all.
However, it’s easy for me to put aside thoughts of grief and loss relating to military service when I’m not the one who’s had to experience them, and while being reminded of those things doesn’t require a terribly high level of commitment or risk, it sure seems like a worthwhile thing to spend at least part of this holiday on. I know our military families have experienced tragedy on a horrifying scale, and continue to experience it on a daily basis.
I can’t truly imagine what it feels like to suffer that particular kind of loss, but no matter how I might feel about decisions made by our military leaders and actions taken by our soldiers on the ground, I can try to genuinely honor the sacrifices made by them and their families, because at their extremes, those sacrifices are so, so much greater than the sacrifices most of us make during the course of our own daily lives.