Many years ago, when I was much younger, and had a great little sports car, an MGB, and was driving across the Hudson River and headed to West Point Academy to tour, and as I hit the toll booth, I said to the attendant after paying my toll: “Have a fun Memorial Day”. As I drove across the bridge, an emotional change came over me and I felt ashamed that I had made such a stupid remark on what is a solemn remembrance to the thousands of people that gave their lives to allow me to live free, do what I want, pursue any career I choose, and enjoy the rewards of my personal effort.
At the other side of the river, I stopped the car, got out, and walked down to the water side, sat on a great rock, and just let the water go by and sun hit my face for several minuets. My thoughts wondered back to my childhood and remembering stories from my uncles who had served in WW II in the Navy, Marines and Army. The told me of fighting, hardships, and great stories of hero’s and officers they admired and followed. They also shared with me the horror’s of killing another human being and the nightly fear of falling asleep scared they might not wake the next morning. I was pretty young, and didn’t grasp it all, but that day on the rock I did.
As I went on to West Point where my uncle had graduated from in 1941 and then served in the Pacific as a staff officer with General MacArthur, I started a quest to learn about the conflicts of our country and have enjoyed many years learning about great men and women who stepped up and gave their lives in the name of freedom, and our way of life in this country. To this day I still enjoy talking with people that served in WW II, Korea, Viet Nam and in the recent and current conflicts in the Asian Theatre.
I have witnessed the terrible way we treated Viet Nam returnees to watching travelers at the Atlanta Airport standing and applauding returning soldiers from Desert Storm.
As we enjoy the BBQ’s and get togethers this weekend, please remember the incredible price that has been paid by the people that sacrificed their lives and in many cases their health to allow you and me to enjoy our pursuit of happiness. I remember that day on the rock at the water edge of the mighty Hudson River when I finally “Got It” and want all of you that served or had sons and daughters that did, I so appreciate what you have done for me and all of us. God Bless, and know there are many of us who really care.
Have a great weekend and be kind to yourself today!