I don’t like working holiday weekends. Really, who does? However, because I had to work today, I was up early. A friend messaged me on Facebook when she noticed my activity.
When I asked what she was doing today, she told me. Her story was more than I expected and a pleasant surprise on a day I was not looking forward to because of work.
However, because of work, I learned her brother’s story…and now I’m looking at Memorial Day a little bit differently.
You see my friend’s brother was a Marine, career Marine. She told me he was a recon Marine, meaning he was sent in to do the dirty work that no one wants to talk about in the middle of the night and sneak out undetected.
She gave no details, but I can’t fathom the emptiness with which a human being tasked with that responsibility must live.
Live with it her brother did, until his early thirties when he began showing signs of mental illness.
Due to the nature of his job, the Marines wouldn’t allow him to take medication for his diagnosis. The eventuality of that refusal to medicate led him to succumb to his demons and take his own life.
I thought about his story and I realized that I’ve always associated Memorial Day with those who died in war. It’s narrow minded I suppose because soldiers lives are taken in many different ways. Some don’t make it home. Others are sent home without their sanity and because of that they eventually lose their lives.
Memorial Day isn’t simply about those who died in battle. It’s also about those who died because they battled. Those who left a part of themselves behind when they came home. Those who died on the inside long before they physically left this earth.
The truth of freedom is that there are things we don’t need to know….things we don’t want to know with regards to how our freedom is maintained. But there are people who perform these atrocities so that we can sleep peacefully at night, free to wake up the next morning and live our lives any way that we choose.
Memorial day is about honoring those who ultimately lost their battle with life because they chose to put on a uniform in order to protect the rest of us. It doesn’t matter whether they lost their battle at the hands of the enemy or by their own.
I’m certain that I don’t understand what it is that makes a person take the risk involved in putting his own life on the line for the greater good. I’m pretty sure I could defend my family if the need arose, but I don’t have what it takes to defend freedom.
Thankfully there are people that do know what it takes. There are people that choose to sacrifice their lives for us. No matter how the battle ultimately took their lives, they died for our freedom.
Thank you, my friend, for sharing your story. Thank you for allowing your loss to give me a greater sense of what this day means.
Most of all, thank you to everyone who serves in the military. And today especially, thank you to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.