Two years back, I wrote a Memorial Day post titled To Remember the Fallen. I shared a personal story with you about a few of my brother Marines and asked you to share your prayers with us for those you wanted to remember as well.
Posts like that are hard to write, and I did not relish a repeat performance come the following year, nor for this year as well. Last year, see, I put it off and decided to watch a movie instead. It wasn’t a war movie, either. But, as the old saying goes, you can run, but you can’t hide. This year, as my family gets ready to honor the fallen at a local veterans cemetery this morning, I looked at what I wrote last year, and I’ve decided to serve it up again.
On Memorial Day’s Eve last year, my boys and I watched the movie Field of Dreams together. My wife and daughter were out of town, so it was just me and my boys hanging out with each other. Classic male bonding time. Though the film is nominally about the game of baseball, I’ve written before about how it evokes other thoughts for me. Would you believe thoughts relevant on Memorial Day?
Let me attempt to explain. The scene I share with you below is where the tears always well up for me in this regard. Everything that meets the eye in this next three minutes (baseball, hot dogs, family, life, purpose, conflict, peace, dreams, gain, loss, belief, unbelief, love, selflessness), brings home what we commemorate on this day. That is a lot to pack into 3:07. Have a look see,
Here we have a youth (and it is youth whom we always call upon), who recognizes that he is needed in an emergency. The youth hears the call, weighs the costs, answers the call, and crosses a line. A life is saved, but at the cost of his own. That sacrifice is acknowledged lovingly by each generation, past, present, and future. And in the end, before he disappears forever into the ether, he is told by one who knows his true worth this: he has measured up.
Keep the tissues handy, because if that clip didn’t make you cry at all, this one surely will. Below is a moving video tribute to all of the Navy Corpsmen who have lost their lives since the War on Terror began. Corpsmen are what in the Army are called Medics. They are the first responders to Marines who are wounded in combat and I thank God for them,
Now, I want you to do what all of my brethren-in-arms would want you to do on this day. After saying a prayer for the repose of the souls of our fallen soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, and a prayer for those serving in harms way now, do the following: Cherish the freedoms that we have. Never take them for granted. Never let the blood spilled by our fallen be taken in vain. Never let the oath they took, the one where they swore to defend our Constitution, be forgotten by those in power. Then, do what they would want to us to do in freedom. Go enjoy the time that you have with your loved ones today. Live and love. Go to the beach, to the pool, eat barbecue, drink beer, etc. Do what the Holy Spirit counsels when He inspired Qoheleth to write,
Here is what I recognize as good: it is well for a man to eat and drink and enjoy all the fruits of his labor under the sun during the limited days of the life which God gives him; for this is his lot. Any man to whom God gives riches and property, and grants power to partake of them, so that he receives his lot and finds joy in the fruits of his toil, has a gift from God. For he will hardly dwell on the shortness of his life, because God lets him busy himself with the joy of his heart. (Ecclesiastes 5:17-19)
Be thankful for those who found joy in serving their country, and by doing so have laid down their own lives for the lives of their loved ones and neighbors.
The Catholic Writers Guild on Beyond Barbecues: Happy Memorial Day.
Monsignor Charles Pope: Memorare! On Memorial Day.