May is a strange month for me. My wife has her birthday on the 13th, and she loves having her day. On the other hand, we lost our cat, Holmes, last year on May 19th, and I'm still trying to get over it. I hope I haven't beat up on you all too much about her in the last year.
But May has Memorial Day in it every year. And I live in the DC area. You out of towners always see the statue of the Iwo Jima Memorial, shown below
which is also known as the Marine Corps Monument. This is because it was the Marine Corp that fought at Iwo Jima, which was one of the most brutal battles of World War 2. But the following image of the almost 4,000 American graves near Cambridge, England is more in keeping with the idea I am slowing trying to get at, slowly but surely.
If you have ever seen the movie, "Saving Private Ryan", the movie both starts and ends in the Normandy Cemetery, with Matt Damon, as an older gentleman standing at a graveside, and crying, almost out of control. The question he asks his wife, at the end of the movie is, 'was I a good man? Did I lead a good life?' In a very direct way, in combat, the Damon character had asked a Captain, played by Tom Hanks, what the eight men who were sent to pull him out of combat to go home expectedof him. Hank's answer was to lead a good life. Hanks was subsequently killed in front of Damon, and the final scenes were of Damon returning to Hank's grave some number of years later to show Hanks that he had done as he had requested. That was a movie.
Below is where the real action will take place on Memorial Day in D.C., the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
I started college when we were just starting to send advisors to Viet Nam. We had over half a million troops there when I got out. I lost a lot of friends to that war. More came back broken. At high school reunions, the vets gathered in a corner and relived old experiences with people that knew what they went through and didn't need any explanations. If you said anything about not having gone to Viet Nam, they simply said that we didn't miss a thing. To this day, they don't talk about it. It seems it was too horrible. The best I have heard was that they can't understand how something that took 2% of their life had such an effect on such a huge percentage of their life. And then society didn't treat them very well when they got home.
I could go on, but I can tell you this, they still talk about their friends that died there. As if it were yesterday.
And then, I read Odat's blog on Sunday, and one of her reader's named Sarge wrote the following quote from Elanor Roosevelt.
"Dear Lord, lest I continue in my complacent ways, help me to remember that someone died for me today. And if there be war, help me to remember to ask and to answer “am I worth dying for?”
I think it should be obvious now that I have decided that it's time for me to become a better person than I am now. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.