I listened closely as Mr. Al Rawls, a Marine Corps Captain who served in Vietnam and the Civics teacher from our local high school, spoke eloquently of his fallen comrades in general and emotionally of one of his buddies in particular, a friend whose life was ended by a bullet to the head that was meant for Mr. Rawls.
I recited the pledge with my townspeople and sang our nation’s anthem, trying to savor every word of those stirring lyrics that end with a question that begs us all pause, despite political ties or persuasion to ask anew, “Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”
Knowing full well that the staccato tribute of the Honor Guard was coming and it would be loud, I still jumped when the guns fired. After many, many years of service, some of our much-loved Guardsmen are finding it increasingly hard to participate physically but it’s clear that their hearts are as dedicated as ever. This past year our town lost three such treasures. In years past, when my kids were young, I would make them go down that line after the service, shake every hand and thank every veteran. I wonder if they remember that– my kids or the men…
As the mournful notes of Taps began drifting out and across the water from the end of a nearby dock, I felt the familiar tightening in my chest. I whispered prayers of gratitude for all the sacrifice the sorrowful tune attests to and petitions of comfort for all the families who still feel the loss.
Whatever plans you have, I hope you’ve made it a point to treat this Memorial Day as more than a mini-vacation. If not, you still have time. In particular, at three o’clock (local time), when you can pause and join your fellow Americans who will be stopping to honor the fallen with a moment of silence. It’s not just a well-known phrase, it is your privilege to never forget and always remember that Freedom Isn’t Free.
P.S. I won’t be hosting ATS LIVE this evening, friends, but I’ll be back next week. Take care~