May 29, 2023
My earliest memory of Memorial Day was not the parades; nor T.V. Specials or lavish barbecues. Ours was not a military family. Although we knew veterans, they kept a low profile. My parents’ younger brothers fought; some of our neighbors were veterans of World War II; one fought in WWI, and some lost sons.
No, for me, an early memory of Memorial Day was copying out its description from the World Book encyclopedia for an assignment in elementary school, and listening to my mother recite In Flanders Fields. I understood little.
Growing up mid-century in Stoneleigh, I sure understood and enjoyed a childhood of peace, plenty, and pleasantness.
Back then, I never fully grasped who underwrote the cost of “the bubble.”
That “bubble” kept me from the harm and hurt so many children endured as the Cold War heated up. (For example, even the school’s air-raid drills were innocuous; just a relief from classes!)
Doug knew way more about the cost of war: his father served in WWII, deputy commander of the AirTransport Command, and his mother worked in the Dallas Red Cross.
Three of his uncles also served: Burck was in the Navy, and Bill was in the Army.
Doug’s Uncle Bud was an aviation cadet, and later served in Korea.
Doug’s older brother served through the Korean War; a cousin served in Vietnam, and Doug’s sister’s fiancé was killed in Vietnam.
To this day, the cost of what our armed forces — and their families— paid still stuns me.*
A Goad to Stir Thankfulness
The text of a prayer that Eleanor Roosevelt carried in her wallet until the day she died helps me — especially when I see how young our military is:
“Dear Lord, lest I continue in my complacent ways, help me to remember that somewhere someone died for me today. And if there be war, help me to remember to ask, “Am I worth dying for?”*
Whew . . .
On this Memorial Day, admitting the reality of an honest answer to that question, a “Thank you” to those fought and died sounds lame — but, I’ll take it.
Sometimes, other people’s prayers are as important to read as the history in which they were written — and prayed.
Mrs. Roosevelt described a prayer in in March of 1940. It gives me words to pray in times when Americans are frustrated, angry and hurting:
“Our Father, who hast set a restlessness in our hearts, and made us all seekers after that which we can never fully find; forbid us to be satisfied with what we make of life. Draw us from base content, and set our eyes on far-off goals. Keep us at tasks too hard for us, that we may be driven to Thee for strength. Deliver us from fretfulness and self-pity; make us sure of the goal we cannot see, and of the hidden good in the world. Open our eyes to simple beauty all around us, and our hearts to the loveliness men hide from us because we do not try enough to understand them. Save us from ourselves, and show us a vision of a world made new. May Thy spirit of peace and illumination so enlighten our minds that all life shall glow with new meaning and new purpose; through Jesus Christ Our Lord.”
This Memorial 2023, thank you.
*Other Memorial Day Posts:
- Memorial Day 2012
- Memorial Day 2014: Do Away with Government Tenure
- Memorial Day 2022
- America’s HOPE is not in our Rearview Mirror