Today is about ONE thing primarily...everything else is fol-de-rol. It's about REMEMBRANCE of those in our armed services who have seen fit to give something back to their country for all that they (read WE) enjoy. Many have given that "last full measure of devotion". They have given their lives for the freedoms we enjoy with an oft times cavalier sense of nonchalance. They are doing the RIGHT THING...for the RIGHT REASON.
THEY are the reason we have "a day off"....a day to "barbecue"..a day to "do nothing".
And during all of our "extracurricular activities", how often do we stop for even a moment to acknowledge their patriotism, their sacrifices, their willingness to do what NEEDS to be done in the protection of our freedoms? Those who at least display our nation's flag are doing more than most.
I recall a time when a Memorial Day parade in downtown Philly was THE only place to be. Families would gather together, waving small flags as representatives from every armed service marched by. Tanks rumbled along the Ben Franklin Parkway past the Art Museum...trucks, jeeps and color guards passed while the throngs cheered, saluted, placed their hands over their hearts, or even wept for what these brave men and women represented to each of US. They were as much the symbol of liberty and freedom as our flag. I never forgot that.
Today, I don't see much in the way of those parades of years gone by. We might have a few small units that are locally stationed march by in some microcosmic version of what we USED to look forward to. I don't even see air shows at local airports all that much. The last show in Fort Wayne that I recall was about FIVE (or more) years ago. Nothing since. Maybe a "warbird" or two dropping by for a few days, giving rides as a way to maintain these historic planes...that's it.
We still see troops (or vets) placing flags on service men and women at grave sites in our cemeteries...at least THAT hasn't fallen out of "vogue". If you ever get a chance to go to Arlington National Cemetery, you'll get a chance to see HOW it's done. It's something that will bring a lump to your throat. There is that somber type of dignity shown wherever you go there. We still see the occasional honor guards at cemeteries firing off volleys to recognize those that have passed on, or as we always liked to say, "Still on Patrol".
Today, it's all about getting the troops home, and while that IS a primary concern, we should at least have the fortitude to support a stance of VICTORY, instead of "cutting one's losses" and bugging the hell out. I never met any winner in a fight that had his "tail tucked neatly between his legs". You'd have thought we'd have learned that lesson all too well.
In Vietnam, the military WON EVERY MAJOR ENGAGEMENT...that's 100% victory, but does history label us the victors over there? Well, we DID get out (after over 52 thousand troops were killed), but it was nowhere close to the victory we had in WW2, which my father referred to as "The Last Popular War". Our returning troops from 'Nam were labelled "baby killers" and were spat upon for no other reason than the fact that they wore a uniform and served (with honor) this great nation of ours. War has become too close a bedfellow to politics these days.
Our pathetic attention spans demand we "win" within the first several days (or even weeks), or else we're just "not interested" any longer, and move along to other things. That is not the mindset of anyone wanting to win against something as insidious as global terrorism. It didn't work with nazism...or fascism, or even communism...so why should this be any different?
It's no wonder that any war, conflict, police action, whatever you call it becomes fodder for the 11 o'clock report. It's much better to watch Paris Hilton getting busted or Lohan leaving the scene of an accident, or Britney shearing her locks off.
So, before tomorrow comes, take some time TODAY to remember those that have served (and died) in our military. THEY made it all possible for YOU to enjoy YOUR brews, YOUR barbeques, and YOUR "day off".
If you have a Vet in your family (or even know of one)...make it THEIR day more than yours.