Dear Fellow American,
I’d like to ask for a moment of your time to talk about Monday, May 30, 2016. The date may not sound remarkable, but it is actually one of the most important days of the year. That Monday is Memorial Day.
Everyone loves and appreciates our brave men and women in uniform who never made it home, but not everyone really understands why they should. Of course, for those who have served and seen combat, no explanation is necessary: They know the horror of war. They have gone to bed at night wondering whether they would live to see the sun again. They watched the death and suffered the loss of people who carried no drop of their blood, yet were their brothers and sisters as surely as anyone who came from their mother’s womb. No one needs to tell these people why they should honor the fallen. They have seen too much to ever do otherwise.
For the rest of us, it may be impossible to truly understand and empathize with the sacrifices our heroes have made for us. Perhaps, that is to our benefit. But we can still honor all that they have done, by remember all we have that they have made possible. And that’s not just what’s obvious, like the right to vote in the coming presidential election. What the men and women in the military have fought for and preserved for us goes far deeper than that.
Consider what you do during a typical day. Do you go to work during the week? The place you work is safe, and the business you work for is stable enough to employ you, because of the military. Do you go to church on Sundays? You have the right to worship where and how you choose, to find God in your own way rather than how the government might prefer you to, because of the military. Will you have dinner tonight with your family, eating food that came from the supermarket? There’s a reason the farmers who grew that food, the truckers who delivered it, and even the cashier who rang you up are all able to perform their essential roles in peace and security, and that reason is the courage and selflessness of the military. Yes, we are free to speak our minds publicly and maintain privacy in our homes against the government and work for whom we choose without coercion, because those are rights defended for us by soldiers, but what they do for us is so much more. We are able to live and function in our everyday lives, to do the smallest things necessary to make a living or just exist without being in danger, because we have people keeping us and our neighbors safe.
They do not always receive the appreciation they deserve. For putting themselves in potentially life-threatening situations that the rest of us may know peace, many soldiers are lucky to take home $18,500 a year in pay. We live in this reality, when the governments of many cities in the nation have already forced fast food industry to begin paying over $31,000 for entry-level work. With that, we have formally stated that defending our freedom – which, again, is not just our political freedom but our freedom to live – is worth less than “NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY”industry.
We can do something about that, and we should. But for now, on Memorial Day, let’s do what’s possible in the moment: Take some time to reflect on all that you have because of our military, and recognize all that they do for you and me, US. And if you’re fortunate enough to meet a soldier or airman or sailor or marine, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, stop what you are doing, approach them and say “thank you”. They don’t hear it as often as they should, and it will give them a small moment of joy that they so richly deserve. When we think of freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly, we are a great independent nation because of them – may God bless them.