Today, I’d like to practice remembrance alongside you.

I haven’t experienced the loss of a close loved one to the ravages of war or to the daily grind of being a first responder, but my grandmother certainly has, and she still carries the weight with her to this day.

“His last letter was postmarked December 14.  His group was going into a town thought to be evacuated to clear out any remaining stragglers and push on further west.  A month later, we received a flag from two uniformed officers on a snowy January morning.”  Grandma recalled the time when her oldest brother was killed in action when his group was ambushed in France in what was supposedly a deserted village.  Her brother was 19 years old, and up until that time was full of life; athletic, popular, and ready to see the world.  Her recounting his story allowed me a window into her continued grief, the unfairness, and her overwhelming sense of losing what could have been.

She didn’t just lose a brother.  She also lost sharing her brother’s future.  He sacrificed not only himself, he sacrificed what COULD have been.  He could’ve cheated death and come home unscathed, married his sweetheart, built a farmhouse outside of town, raised 4 children, and carried on a legacy that would’ve befitted someone of his stature.  My grandmother would’ve made a wonderful auntie to his children, and cared dearly for his children’s children.  Instead, he heeded the call of his country and put all of that on the line, ultimately laying at the foot of the flagpole.

Memorial Day touches each of us, whether directly or otherwise.  The sacrifice of the future self of those putting their lives on the line is the ultimate price to pay, and are grateful for their choice.  Also today, let’s look to each other and give a supportive nod.  We all carry the weight of loss, some heavier than others.  The younger generations have had it easy in that regard, and we should all be thankful for that.

If you’re reading this, you have a future, even if for one more day.  Let’s be grateful to those that sacrificed theirs for us.