Today is Memorial Day.
A day when most of us stop our normal lives and remember those who have lost their life for our country. To remember those from previous generations and those who joined the military after 9/11. We remember who they were, what they did and how they died. We remember their families, their spouses, their children, their mothers, their fathers.
When you are a military spouse, the meaning of this day changes.
Memorial Day is no longer just for those who fought in the World Wars, Vietnam and Korea. It is for your friends and those who went to war with your own spouse. It is for you neighbor or the girl you sat next to in bible study. The day touches you in a different way than it would have had your spouse never joined.
I remember during our first deployment. It was soon after the guys had left, maybe just a week or two. A bunch of us wives was standing around at a fair that the base had put on. Or some other type of event. It was fall of 2006 and our guys were in Iraq. I remember standing around, looking at all of us. Knowing we were all going through the same thing. Knowing that we were all worried about our spouses and all praying they would come back home to us.
Being that this was my first deployment I had no other idea about how I was supposed to feel about having a husband in a war zone. This wasn’t even something I thought much about until he joined in late 2005. When he deployed I just had to have faith that he would come home. I couldn’t think too hard about what he was doing or how much danger he was in.
A few months later we heard the news. One of the wives that were standing with us that day had lost her husband. This war, it was real. Very real. Over the rest of that deployment and into the next one, five of my friends became widows. Some were in their early 20s, just starting out married life. Others had been married for years with several children.
My husband lost friends. His battle buddies that meant so much to him. Men that he had trained with and was supposed to come home with.
Ten years ago was when Memorial Day changed for me. It became so real. So very real.
I am glad that today, in 2016, so many people remember what this day is about, even if it isn’t personal for them. They know that we need to stop and remember those that gave their lives for our country.
The truth is, Memorial Day is just one day. I am glad we have this day but I wish our country could do more. How do you thank someone who gave up everything? How do you make it right?
I suppose you never can. You can never repay someone for that cost. You can’t bring their loved one back and you can’t erase their pain.
Whether it is the family of a soldier who fought in Germany in the 1940s, the widow of a man who left for Vietnam in the late 60s or the children of a marine who lost his life in Iraq just a few years ago.
The truth is, we can never repay them for what they lost. But we can support them. We can support them in our prayers and our thoughts and our actions. We can remember them and make sure they know they are loved and that the person they lost is a hero. We can make sure that we go beyond Memorial Day and that we aren’t just thinking of them on a Monday in May but that we are thinking of them the rest of the year too.
Because Memorial Day Just Isn’t Enough…