Happy Memorial Day!

I’m dedicating this post to John, the little old man who, when returning the chair he borrowed from my table at Starbucks, decided to sit down across from me and tell me his entire life story in about twenty minutes. Thank you.

John had just graduated from law school when he got drafted into WWII. He joined the Navy and became well-versed in submarines. When the government asked him to fly to Seattle to take part in an underwater invasion of Japan, he was reluctant to go. But  he went. And he arrived just in time for VJ Day.

Though John was blessed to avoid the invasion, thousands of others have not been so lucky. Countless men and women have fought, many losing their lives, to defend the United States and the values and rights she stands for.

I imagine those veterans would be even more angered and disappointed than I am in the way our country “honors” those sacrifices on Memorial Day. Most Americans celebrate Memorial Day with backyard BBQs, door-buster sales, and a day off work. Those aren’t bad in and of themselves, but the result is that many of us never even consider what Memorial Day is actually about.

So on behalf of all Americans—even, and maybe especially, the ignorant ones—

Thank you, veterans, for serving our country. Thank you for stepping up to defend the freedoms we so often take for granted. Your sacrifice keeps us safe enough that we often don’t even realize just how much you’ve done for us. But that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve our gratitude.

And to those who have lost loved ones in the military—whether because of war, training, or something else—I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t begin to imagine the price you, too, have paid for America.

May we all step up to the plate to do what we can to make America, and ourselves, a country worthy of your sacrifices.


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