Memorial Day is a day we remember those who have fought for our freedoms and paid the ultimate sacrifice. My view of this day has drastically changed.
It is sad to confess but I use to take it for granted. I didn’t really understand the true meaning of those in the military who sacrifice so much until we moved 2 miles from one of the largest Air Force Bases in the country.
Memorial Day is to commemorate those who have come and gone. This article represents those are serving today because it is through living around them 24/7 that I have come to thank those who have gone before us.
My father is 85 and a WWII veteran. He went overseas at the end of the war to help clean up from the battle of Normandy. He has never spoken much about it. I am not sure why but maybe he doesn’t want to remember.
He did tell me that he remembers clearly all the men on the ship crossing the ocean and how sea sick they all were. The food was horrible he says and the only thing that saved him was the many Clark Bars he stored in his baggage.
I have found that there were many in my ancestral history that fought in the military. My uncle who was my dad’s older brother was also in WWII. My uncle who was my mother’s brother was retired from the Air Force. In his many years of service he went all over the world taking his family and living a life only military personnel understand. My great-great-great-great-great grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War.
Knowing these in my family have served I have come to appreciate their efforts in giving me freedom today but I didn’t know the extent of their accomplishments along with many others until now.
Our neighborhood is full of military. We attend a church down the street full of military. It is a common occurrence to go to the local stores and see many in their uniforms. In fact, when we moved here I felt we were the minority because when you tell people you have just moved here they automatically ask, “Are you in the military?”
We live next door to a pilot who has served for 20 years. He has flown every kind of aircraft imaginable. He told me he recognizes his house when he flies over it because he sees the pool in our backyard. Since we have been here almost 4 years this pilot has made more trips to Qatar than I can count. At one point he was gone for a year. He is retiring soon and moving closer to his family. He has spent his time here for the most part alone.
Across the street is a retired pilot. Directly in front of our house is a married couple who are both in the Air Force. They have 2 small children and the husband is currently deployed leaving her to her job and the care of their children. They also have no family close by.
Down the street is another married couple serving. They are both currently deployed and have no family here either.
Last summer my best friend here left. Her husband was a Major and had been deployed quite often. She and her young son became part of our family while he was away. He was given orders last August to move.
Then there is the young man who is considered one of those who disengages bombs. When asked why he does this he replied,” It is what I was put on this earth to do.”
These are a few of those we know who currently serve. They have many stories to tell; many of which they cannot. There are many more living here that we don’t know but their presence is what keeps this city alive. For the most part they are here for 3 years with deployments during that time and then given orders to move to another base. It is an existence I was not born to do. I am glad for the many that have this calling. It is their life and purpose.
Daily I am reminded of the importance of their jobs. As the jets fly over our house in perfect alignment it is evidence of how real the need is for our country’s protection.
Flying these expensive aircraft isn’t a joy ride. It is practice for the real thing. It is war in motion as it happens. The jets often break the sound barrier bringing to my heart how fortunate we are to live in a country with so much advanced technology and the experts to perform these amazing flights.
Knowing that deployment could end up being something I would rather not talk about is courage beyond what I can wrap my brain around. I have witnessed the devastation of those injured, hurt or live traumatically day to day remembering what they witnessed. It is heartbreaking.
For those deployed brings an apparent homesickness for those they have left behind. Families are home missing their loved ones who are fighting to keep us free and yet longing for their safe return. It is a dilemma I see every day.
I am glad to say I am a changed person. My admiration for these heroes goes beyond my efforts to even explain it. Quietly they live lives of danger, fear, loneliness and heartache. Yet, they fulfill their duty with strength and desire to accomplish their goals with pride and a love for this country that I have not witnessed in many people.
Prior to living here I had very little experience with the military. Now my eyes have been opened to a truth that is settled in a way of life that is often forgotten or not even noticed. This group of Americans deserves our greatest respect and support. The torch they carry is for all of us guided by God almighty who is the leader and victor of all battles.
For all those who have fought and passed on and for those who are presently serving, it is my prayer that God is blessing you and your families. Thank you for your sacrifice and hard work. Thank you for accepting the call. Thank you for fighting to keep the freedoms we have. Thank you for showing me your way of life and opening my eyes to courage, strength, and dedication you have for this country. Thank you for being my heroes.
This epitaph reads:
In order that all may share
The sentiments of that group of
Patriotic Citizens of Lancaster County
Who erected a monument here on
June 2, 1860
The Inscriptions of this Memorial
Are the same as those
On the original monument.
Daughters of the American Revolution
Lancaster County Historical Commission