I never expected to know military death, even from a distance.
When death came, it was not to my doorstep. There were many times its shadow passed by my home, but it never rested here.
It stopped instead at the doorstep of neighbors.
Memorial Day is heavy with the memories of the our fallen friends. My husband's comrades -- fully alive one moment and obliterated the next -- weigh on his mind. How could he live and they fall? Why should I be spared that burden?
We wear their names inscribed on shirts and wrist bands. We go to balloon releases, place flowers on graves and leave tender notes for their family members.
We mourn them, The Fallen.
But when we spend time with their families -- children without daddies, wives without husbands, moms with sons -- we learn that there is something more important than remembering and honoring their death.
We learn that their life is the thing that matters.
Because the moment of giving all was just that -- a moment. The rest of their lives were spent on other things. Loving their children. Holding their wives. Pestering their moms. These are the memories that are cherished.
These are the reasons we honor them.
When I spend time with Gold Star families, I spend time listening to stories of life.
"We used to bring Kevin here when he was little," Mrs. Graham tells me.
"Oh you should've seen Tony that day, he was so happy," Mrs. Paci says.
Their eyes light up with memories of their children brimming with life well lived.
As you remember the fallen this Memorial Day, don't focus on the loss. Celebrate instead their lives. After all, we honor them because of their willingness to give all.
It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.
- Gen. George S. Patton