I live so close to an army base that I can hear reveille in the morning and taps at night. If I go out to lunch on my side of town, I am surrounded by men and women in uniform. During the heart of the summer I often hear ambulance sirens, indicating that despite all precautions, someone has succumb to heat stroke while training in “famously hot” Columbia, South Carolina.
The days, however, that move me the most are graduation days at the base. Those are the days when both the lines at the security gate and the ones at local restaurants are long. In those lines are families, proud families, gathered around impossibly young men and women who have completed boot camp. I see them in their dress uniforms, fit and smiling, and I wonder what’s next for them. Whatever it is, it will not be easy. In our turbulent world it is highly likely they are headed into harm’s way. It is always a possibility they will go and not return alive.
Living a stone’s throw from Fort Jackson has deepened the meaning of holidays like Memorial Day. I no longer think of cookouts or time for projects around the house. I remember those who have died serving our country because I know so many of my neighbors are remembering someone in particular, someone special, perhaps looking at a photo of an impossibly young man or woman who will never grow old.
This Memorial Day we give thanks for those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country. We pray for those who grieve this day.
May we not only hope, but work for the day when war will be no more.