MEMORIAL DAY (part three)
What follows is the 3rd installment of The Literate Show’s Memorial Day weekend.
Memorial Day is specific to one day. Truth be told, many Americans think of our war dead every single day of the year.
We think about the nineteen-year-olds who were killed without having kissed a girl. They didn’t get the opportunity. They were going to do it one day. They imagined the dance hall or floral path where the thrill of first love would begin. It was going to be warm and peaceful and perfect.
Like how it was for me and you.
We think about the twenty-five-year-olds who died before they could develop a career. They had plans, never to unfold.
Someone had a tune in their head that died with them. A novel that went unwritten. A dream to see their kid talk, graduate, marry.
There’s an empty bedroom that mother has left untouched, long after the telegram arrived and the pastor left. The son or daughter’s potential is preserved in that room. We mourn because every bit of preparation for that child has now gone to waste. The grade school lessons, staying after class, passing down of family recipes, and the quiet wisdom shared between mother and daughter are all lost as casualties of war.
Most of us did not know the dead personally. So why do we, as strangers, anguish? We feel sadness because we’ve kissed dates and written novels and worked our careers. We wrote Stardust and sung it and we’ve fallen in love slow-dancing to it. We’ve enjoyed the long natural wavelength of life, which is measured from very young to very old.
Someone else had to scan the sky. They froze, burned, drowned, starved, shattered and bled out. Our hearts hurt for all the satisfaction denied them. Because we’ve indulged, and squandered, our good fortunes over and over.
Our Memorial Day dead were serving to defeat tyranny. We live in freedom only through their fight! Their lost opportunities weigh heavily on us. This is why we honor their memory.