Search This Blog

Friday, May 22, 2015

How They See It

 Over the last ten years I have befriended many of our service members, and I have often approached days like Memorial Day wondering, "What does a day like this mean to them? How do they see it? How does someone who has seen war take the lives of those they fought with remember them?" Perhaps the answer is contained in the poignant words of the song, Rest In Peace:

"Lord, give me wisdom to comprehend
Why I survive and not my friend…"

 For many, they feel a sense of "survivor's guilt," as it's termed - a feeling of intense loss  and regret for not having been in their fallen warrior's place. They think of the warrior who died and what his life might have been had he lived. As civilians, we will never know the depth of that bond which brothers-in-arms share. A bond that goes to the grave and beyond. For the past few Memorial Days, I have had the honor of visiting the gravesite of one of these fallen heroes and doing so in the presence of his close friend. Through the stories and memories he has shared with me, I've been able to get a better understanding of just how deep the ties between fellow warriors are. Because of their love for one another, there are few times where this is more evident than on Memorial Day when the names and faces come flooding across the memory with even greater meaning.
 With each passing year, warriors recall their now fallen friend as if his death happened only yesterday: the last movie they watched, the last laugh they shared, the last words they spoke. In the case of some like my friend, they know that their buddy is rejoicing in the presence of God. He is in a far better place, and this parting is only temporary. Such fallen do, indeed, rest in peace.
 On this day, the warriors who once fought alongside these brave individuals now pause to remember them and the things they did to serve their nation unselfishly. However, to those who served with the fallen, every day is Memorial Day. They don't need one day set aside to commemorate the sacrifice of their friends. They live their lives with purpose because they remember others gave their lives so they can live their own to the fullest. In some way, great or small, the memory of the fallen motivates them every single day.
 Maybe we all can learn a lesson from the ones who understand Memorial Day the best: the ones who carry the greatest burden - that of keeping alive the memory of those who gave all. This Memorial Day, if you see a veteran, ask them who they are thinking of that day…because, more likely than not, there is a special person on their mind that they will be glad to talk about and share with you.