Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day weekend takes on a whole new atmosphere when you live on a military base.  Yes, it's still the beginning of summer.  Yes, there are BBQs, beer and summer cocktails.  But it's also a sobering reminder that we have lost friends, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, neighbors, husbands and wives defending this country and the freedom that is our way of life, and the freedom to drive to New Hampshire for beer when all the stores nearby are closed.   

I never really thought much about Memorial day growing up.  The country wasn't engaged in any particularly large military action, all I knew was peace for most of my youth.  I can count on one hand the number of people I knew who enlisted or went off to any of the Academies.  There was the first Gulf War, and some action in Africa that was largely ignored by the general American public.  Then 9/11 happened and we've been at war for over a decade now.  A decade!  My children have never known the peace that I knew as a child.

We're blessed not to have lost a close friend or immediate relative, so instead this weekend we said our prayers for our friends' families who have lost a loved one.  Baby can't talk, but he does a great job of folding his hands while we all pray.  Chester is still pretty ignorant of what death means, and his prayers are a bit garbled about visiting people in Heaven, but he tried his best to give a good prayer for Mr. Shawn and the other soldiers in Heaven.  Pete gave a very touching prayer for Mimi, and added one for the soldiers too after some prompting.  When I explained that we were saying special prayers for the soldiers who died to protect us, he gave me a bit of a heart attack.  Pete gave an articulate prayer for all the colored soldiers in The Battle.  I was a tad dumbfounded until I figured out- childhood innocence here- he meant the Blue and Red soldiers from the Battle of Lexington and Concord!  We went to the reenactment on Patriots' Day this year with my parents.  (What an amazing history lesson, I highly recommend it to everyone in the area!)

So after watching the soldiers in different colors, he wanted to know if we pray for them all, both sides, all the colors?  And what's even better, is his innocence that there was just ONE battle that's kept us all free.  I hate knowing that someday he'll understand how many battles, and how many men and women we've lost.  I wish we could just leave it at the different colors at the battle, but I know that someday he'll understand.  Someday he'll hear taps, not as the song that meant bedtime, but as a the bugle call at a funeral with military honors.  As a mother now, my heart tugs more than ever before, knowing that each one of our fallen service members was an adorable, sweet, innocent child once just like my boys.

We'll be celebrating the start of summer.  We'll be at a BBQ.  Not sure if they'll play the call to evening colors or taps tonight (the base here seems not to play it on weekends for some reason) but I know we've already said and continue to say our prayers and our thanks.  God Bless you and keep you.

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