The smell of barbeque fills the air as people share memories with family and friends. Candy is thrown our way as people march in a parade to honor the men and women who fought for this country. We dangle colored beads from our neck to show our patriotism. We light sparklers that sizzle and glow in our backyard. We shoot red, white and blue fireworks up in the black sky filled with shining stars to show our appreciation.
To me, Memorial Day is seeing my grandpa’s eyes fill with tears as he reflects on his brutal past. His stories all start with “back in the day, when I was in Vietnam War...” My heart drops when I hear the deep crackle in his voice as he relives what could’ve happened. I notice the brittle smile that fills his face as he realizes he’s the lucky one— the one who made it out alive. It’s the way he shares what shaped him to grow up to be this honorable man. Memorial Day is wrapping my arms around him and saying “I love you.”
I stood in a foggy cemetery as I witnessed a soldier place his hand over his heart, then onto his friend’s grave as he whispered “you did good,” in a frail voice. I saw his eyes tear up, almost as if his heart crumbled to ground. His uniform stood out in the cemetery, as if we could see the aura of bravery that surrounded him. He nodded his head as people thanked him for his service. I stared at him, as I was intrigued. The impact this man had on the way I looked at Memorial Day changed my life.
Memorial Day is about honoring the ultimate sacrifice of our soldiers. I choose to commend them by going to parades, lighting sparklers, and honoring the men and women who fight for our country. On Memorial Day, I fold my hands together and pray for for the families who have lost a loved one in war.