MEMORIAL DAY NEWS:
I originally wrote this piece a few years ago. Today seemed like a good time to share it again.
Memorial Day is traditionally about honoring the soldiers who have lost their lives in service. Thankfully, I don't have any personal stories of friends going off to war and coming home in a coffin. Instead, I'd like to say a few words for the people in my life who have served in the armed forces.
Today is a day for my grandfather, Sam. He picked up and moved from Maryland to Washington state when the military put him in charge of training pilots for World War II. Week after week, he'd work with recruits, many of whom would be shot down in the Pacific a few days later. He learned to love military food, probably because as a man who grew up in the Depression, any food was good food (even creamed chipped beef and Spam). When the war was finally over, he went into teaching and eventually got his master's degree with a thesis on science-fiction literature for young adults. He found a way to leave his strict military self behind and, from the stories I have heard, was regarded as one of the kindest teachers of all time. Today is a day for honoring my memories of him, which were cut short by cancer.
Today is a day for my childhood friend, Christopher. Our families used to get together to carve pumpkins on Halloween and around Christmas time, they'd invite us over for a "traditional" Chinese food dinner. He put in for three tours of Iraq. I don't know how many sleepless nights he spent in the desert or how often he had to wonder about IEDs on the road when he departed from his base. His service is something I have never thanked him for, face to face.
Today is a day for my former co-workers, Haroot and Mike. Haroot served as an Army Ranger, a man whose physical training experiences in Ranger School are beyond exhausting just to hear about. He never speaks of his missions, but after reading up on the Rangers, I know he must have been in many situations that can barely be described with the word "nightmarish." Mike served in Vietnam. When he was still teaching, he gave a presentation at school every year, talking to his students about the realities of war. Every year, he recounted the sights he witnessed and the fact that he knows what it feels like to take a human life.
Enjoy your day, have something with ketchup on it, watch some fireworks and if there's someone you know who put their life on the line for your freedom, let them know you appreciate their sacrifices.
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