Growing up, I had almost no exposure to the military and I didn’t understand Memorial Day. What I did know was that my birthday is always close to the date, so it was a long weekend, more celebration, for me.
What a joke.
Years later life humbled me. I had the opportunity to serve with friends I loved, friends who aren’t with us anymore. Friends we honor on Memorial Day. And doesn’t life have a way of teaching us what matters in the harshest of ways, and it wasn’t my stupid birthday. Mostly now, I wish we could just skip over the whole weekend. It forces me to think about things I don’t want to think about. I feel guilty I couldn’t do more, give more. I feel guilty I got out to do something else with my life. I feel guilty for what I have. I feel guilty for the extra years, the extra birthdays. Every year I grow older it’s one more year too many friends never had.
Part of what we do at GORUCK is build a bridge between the military and civilian worlds. It’s not easy, especially because we all have to face our Memorial Days in that process. The good news is that my buds don’t want me to dwell, or to be unhappy, and if our fates had switched, just like them I would have wanted them to live their lives to the fullest. To spare me the tears. And to do something awesome with people they love before toasting me with a beer, every single year. So we’ll keep on keepin’ on with that one.
Here’s the point. Every day can’t be Memorial Day, nobody wants you to live your life like that. I know I can’t. But one day a year, one weekend a year we pay our respects and we honor the fallen. It’s this weekend.
Make it count here.