Monday, May 31, 2010

Remember Those Who Have Died for Us

Soldiers of The Old Guard, after placing flags on graves at Arlington.

UPDATE: We can at least be grateful that the roster of the dead on Memorial Day is not going up as much as it once did during wars. So much so that we have memorials for the individuals rather than group memorials. And we are looking to maintain the memorials in Iraq, as we draw down in victory.

We can't forget them. My small part since the war began is to read the casualty notice for everyone who has died. During 2006-2007, it was often very tough to maintain that discipline so that our losses never became just a statistic to me. I remain grateful that because of their sacrifice--and all those who died before them--my long Memorial Day weekend was possible. And my children could enjoy themselves with me:

But they know what today was. This morning, Lamb asked me about the flag and the day off. I explained that it was to remember all the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who have died to protect us. She asked if that was for me, too. No, I said. I didn't die. And I was never sent to war, so I was lucky. I almost went (in 1991) and expected to go. But in the end, my unit was not sent. Besides, I told her, I set up the phones so even if I went, I wouldn't have used the weapon I had to carry around.

Later, she asked me why nobody else around me had their flag out. Well, you don't have to, I answered. Some places have more flags than others. She figured that if you were in the Army, you probably put out your flag. Probably, I said.

And I was so proud when she made her own flag and popsicle stick flag pole, and asked me to put it outside. At first I wondered why the stripes were vertical, until I realized that my angled flag pole made the stripes look vertical. I said the wind would blow it down, but suggested the window inside, which she thought would work:

So yes, those who have died to protect us are being remembered. Which is all we can do for them.