I don’t remember a single Memorial Day when my father didn’t have the American flag flying and we weren’t, as children, acutely aware of why we were celebrating this holiday. Military service has been a long tradition in my family. Most of my great-great grandparents immigrated a decade or so before the Civil War and two of them fought for the Union in Illinois regiments. Both my grandfathers served in World War II and Korea respectively. My parents were both in the United States Marine Corps and quite a few of this generation have followed them into the Corps.
For most of the country military service isn’t apart of their celebration of Memorial Day and many forget to pause and give thanks and bless to those who served and are serving in our armed forces. It’s often just a BBQ or a day off from work and little more. I had the honor of sitting in on the last day of the legislative session for the Colorado House of Representatives, there were over twenty veterans of World War II in attendance for recognition of their service to this great nation during our hour of greatest need. One representative stood at the well and commended them for not complaining, not shirking their duty, and simply getting down to the task at hand and then coming home and resuming their lives. I thought about my own grandfather and his service and how during my whole life I only heard him talk about the war once and I had to ask my grandmother which ship he served on in the Navy.
The war didn’t define him, he only saw it as his duty and then he came home to raise a family. But for me, the war did define him. He was my hero. He knew what hard work was and well into his 80s he had a better manicured lawn and hedgerow than anyone I had ever seen. He was proud of his life, his family, proud of his faith. He truly was a member of the Greatest Generation. So this Memorial Day that’s who I’ll remember…that’s who I will thank and that’s who I’ll miss.