Names Engraved and the Living Memories of Memorial Day

During the Memorial Day Ceremony today, the 58,000 names on the Vietnam Wall was a prime focus of thoughts and memories of many of the people in attendance.

Something mentioned in the key note speech (given by a Combat Marine Vet who served there) made me once again try and reflect on the magnitude of just what Memorial Day is all about. 

Year after year I try and gather my own thoughts trying to give respect to those who have fought and died for our country, and every year it seems that nothing I can say can enlighten those who believe that this three day weekend in May is meant for nothing more than partying, playing and shopping.

Those who have bled and fallen on soil other than ours would not be much remembered if it weren’t for those who cherished them- not as a soldier, but as a son, father, brother, daughter, sister. And by those who made it home. 

The 58, 000 names on a replica of the Vietnam Wall is an astounding number of lives given- but add to those the 116,516 who fell during “The War to end all Wars”, 405, 399 during World War 2, 54,246 during Korea, an additional 40 thousand during Vietnam, and those who have died during conflicts in Beirut, Somalia, the Persian Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan and the number still grows. The number is unfathomable to me.

The life stories of over 700,000 are silent behind the engraved names of stone in memorials, cemeteries and resting places which span the globe. Each name representing something given up in addition to the blood and breath of life- their selflessness, their peace for others, jobs, careers, livelihoods… and families and friends left behind.

The Marine Veteran mentioned in his key note speech today, that the names are not alone- double those twice, and you have the mothers and fathers, then double, triple and quadruple that and you have brothers and sisters, wives and husbands, and friends beyond count. 

For them, Memorial Day isn’t shopping, or BBQ’s.  It may be a parade, or a time at one of the rolling green hills dotting the continent which contain the row upon row of silent sentinels bearing their loved one’s engraved names.

I said earlier that I won’t begrudge anyone who takes time to enjoy and have fun on Memorial Day weekend, because the freedom we’ve been given, gives us the same to enjoy life, but for me, I can’t say “Happy” Memorial Day.

My emotions run deep on this day every year, because I know that I’ve never sacrificed for what has been given to me at such an incredible cost- and while I pray that somehow I’m worthy of it, I can’t help but doubt I’ll ever be worthy enough.