I don’t tell of my own experiences in war to non-combat veterans unless they are people in my small circle and ask about them. I often tell of my post-war struggles with addiction, PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and the physical issues I’ve encountered since my honorable discharge to groups of people as an advocate for PTSD awareness. Being sober for several years and capable of better managing my own struggles allows me to talk to people about those times. Death and the intensities that happen in war aren’t something people need to know about, in my opinion. What does need to be made known, is that with each American military member who has died in war has built a foundation on which many take advantage of daily. On this Memorial Day, let us honor these men and women for their sacrifice. Let us pray that their families find peace knowing they died for the betterment and perseverance of the greatest nation known to history.
Being a combat veteran is something I am proud of. I am honored to have fought, cried, laughed and did my part with the greatest men I have known. A bunch of individuals who became brothers by a bond you wouldn’t understand unless you too have been there. Those of us who are remaining, look at Memorial Day quite a bit different than most. It isn’t about we living veterans. Not a holiday where we should receive your thanks, your appreciation. It’s a holiday to remember and honor our fellow countrymen who died in the line of duty.
It’s a hard weekend for me. I remember each and every friend I lost in war. My memory becomes flooded with scenes of war that are unshakeable. I experience these memories daily, but this weekend it’s intensely more than normal.I have a ritual that I take part in, where I pray for each one of them by name to my Heavenly Father. I thank Him for allowing me the privilege to have known them. I contact their families, and let them know I loved their son, brother, or daddy. I sometimes tear up, but try to remain strong for their families sake. I fly my flag. The flag that symbolizes our commitment to defending this country against terrorists both foreign and domestic. I take time to reflect, and I take time to tell my own family, including my combat veteran dad, that I am thankful for their love and support.
I do celebrate the weekend like many others. I go to barbecues, eat a steak, have a drink and enjoy the time with friends and family. I am able to do this with a heavy heart, because every one of my buddies who are no longer here would want it that way. They would want to be honored with such a good time. Others may be celebrating the extra day off, or the fun vacations and etc…but for those who fought along those patriots, we celebrate the lives who were lost to give our families and friends the ability to chase their dreams.
This Memorial Day, take the time to partake in the reason for the holiday. Pray for our troops in harms way. Pray for our fallen comrades. Eat some barbecue, enjoy your vacation, fly your flag and have fun! Take full advantage of this day and everyday! The foundation built for you is meant to be enjoyed.
In closing, I thank you for your patriotic spirit, and I urge you to hold your ‘Thank you’ and handshakes for Veterans Day; we appreciate your gratefulness on that day and any other time of the year you feel so inclined to express it.
Until then, may God continue to bless you, and God Bless America.