Memorial Day: Real Life Sacrifices

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Image from pfflyer on morguefile.com. A Marine guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

I know I’m a few days early, but I’ve been thinking a lot about Memorial Day and real life sacrifices. Men and women in our military make sacrifices every day on behalf of our country. The honor of Memorial Day seems to be forgotten. Many people view it as a day off work, the day that ushers in the official beginning of summer.

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The USS Arizona Memorial wall of names. Photo by Jeanne Takenaka

It’s great to have an extra day to be with family and friends, but I also want to remember those who this day is meant to honor. We honor the soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and guardsmen, both men and women, who have fought and died defending the rights we have in the United States. Have all of them done their jobs perfectly? No. Honorably? Regrettably, no. But, most of them have done their jobs excellently, sacrificed much to preserve the freedoms our constitution guarantees—even for people who prefer to desecrate those freedoms.

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Image courtesy of Damian Brandon at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 People who serve in our military sacrifice much—relationships, comforts, some dreams, and in certain cases, life itself. They are some of the bravest people I can imagine. They’re willing to go to faraway places, to battles where they know they may not come home? Wow. These men and women look beyond themselves to a broader cause, a higher calling. Perhaps they envision their children living with the freedoms they’ve enjoyed. Perhaps they see the forces that want to take our country out, and are determined to stop them at any cost. It happened in WW2, WW1, and as far back as the Revolutionary War. People have stepped out of their comfort zones to defend, uphold human dignity.

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Unnamed survivors of the bombing at Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. Photo by Jeanne Takenaka

 Mothers, fathers, spouses and children have sacrificed dreams and hopes to support their loved ones in this mission. Fear attempts to trump love in their hearts. With tears on faces and squeezes around necks, they’ve said good-bye, perhaps for the final time. They’ve gone on with life as best they could. Always wondering, would today be “the day” bad news knocked on their door?

Over seventeen years ago I married my own real life hero. My honey is a retired Air Force navigator. He gave twenty years of his life to defend our country. We’ve both been gifted with a legacy of selfless service. His father spent two tours in Southeast Asia. His two brothers also served full careers in the military. My father’s father was a World War One POW. My father served in the Navy. My cousin fought in Viet Nam. I couldn’t be prouder of them.

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Flag flying near the entry to the USS Arizona Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii. Photo by Jeanne Takenaka

As you celebrate Memorial Day this Monday, take a few minutes to remember why we have the freedoms we do in this country. Take time to say thank you to someone who is on active duty or is a veteran. If you or a loved one has served in our Armed Forces, thank you. You have my deepest gratitude.

What about you? Do you have a family member who served in the Armed Forces? How do you spend Memorial Day?

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7 thoughts on “Memorial Day: Real Life Sacrifices

  1. My Granddaddy (Mom’s Dad) served as Chief Gunnery Officer on a naval destroyer in WWII and Korea. He passed away in 2004. Dad was a National Guard sniper during Vietnam. Mom just found a letter from her grandmother accepting her grandfather’s marriage proposal while he was serving in WWI.

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  2. What a great legacy you have in your family. My Grandpa’s brother was killed in World War 2. He kept all his correspondence and medals. It’s so humbling to look at these things and understand the sacrifice, because it was great.

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