Memorial Day Feels Different This Year


This week a reporter emailed me to ask my thoughts as the spouse of a deployed servicemember on Memorial Day, and I couldn't answer the question for a whole day. I felt ridiculous for being at a loss for words.

I sat down to write a response and I stared at my computer screen. I blinked. I had nothin. Yeah, me - the one who can wax eloquent about nearly anything. The one who can strike up a conversation with a perfect stranger about the intricacies of just about any weather condition, who can extemporaneously compare and contrast The Preschooler's constant need for peanut butter with Sweet Pea's inexplicable desire to carry around (but not look at) ten books everywhere she goes.

Perhaps it was hard because one of the first holidays that passed after Husband left for his one year mobilization to the Middle East was Veteran's Day, and I'll admit it was a hard one to swallow. When my newspaper arrived that Friday it was emblazoned on page after page with bright red, white, and blue sales flyers.  What in the hell was a Veteran's day sale? Why had I never noticed how irritating this was before, when it was so clearly offensive to me, now? All I could think about was the blue star banner hanging in my hallway, and how I prayed every night that the star would never turn to gold. All I could do was skulk around my house, and clean insanely, and let my kids watch TV while I silently but violently ripped up the newspaper ads in defiance.

But this Memorial Day I didn't feel that way. We've come so much farther in our pride, patriotism, and faith since we first built our own little white table six months ago. This Memorial Day, we understand that our perspective as a military family is not quite the same as the general public. We understand that observing is the best honor. We understand that celebration isn't for them - it's for us.

So, we are celebrating. First we are attending a local ceremony at 9am put on by our American Legion. We've been talking about sacrifice at the dinner table, and I think the kids understand that word better this year than they ever have. They don't understand the sacrifice Husband is making, but they understand their own. And that's just enough understanding, for now.

But after the ceremony, we aren't going to sulk. We aren't going to hang around home with quiet and somber regret over the general public's lack of understanding on the very holiday set aside to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Instead, we are going to celebrate and have some fun as a family, and take advantage of the festivities of the weekend.

Because it feels right to honor these men and women by doing what they could not, by doing what they would have most wanted to do if they were here: to spend more time with the people we love.

Happy Memorial Day, America. Thankyou for your sacrifices.

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