Monday, May 31, 2010


Today marks another Memorial Day.  Today is different than previous holidays.  Today, I "get" it.  I wish I didn't, I wish I were able to naively enjoy a 3-day weekend, family bbq's and what I thought was an adequate reflection on the true price our military personnel pay everyday.

Sacrifice always comes with a price tag attached.  Some of our troops are away from their loved ones for long periods of time.  Children are born and grow up in their absences.  T-ball games and ballet recitals are missed, and only enjoyed through home movies or emailed pictures.  Thanksgiving dinner arrives with one less person at the table, while the family prays for their safe return.  Parents celebrate a milestone anniversary - all smiles on the outside, crying on the inside, that their beloved child is so far away, and potentially in danger.

There is also the "ultimate sacrifice" - the giving of one's own life for the benefit of others.  My son-in-law, Joel, did that.  He gave his life, in service of the US Army.  Not only did he sacrifice himself for his Ranger brothers, he gave up his chance to be a life-long husband and father.  He was overseas and missed his first wedding anniversary.  A week before the tour of duty was over, he was gravely injured.  Three days later, he passed from this world - his family, wife and infant son at his side.  His son will celebrate his first birthday in a matter of days from now.
Why did he do this?  Because he was a US Ranger, because he believed in his country and wanted to serve and protect her, because this was his calling.

To Joel, and every other veteran - both gone and still with us - I thank you.  Honestly, my thanks are truly insufficient, but they're all I have to offer, and they come from the heart.

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” Arthur Ashe