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Few holidays impact me as much as Memorial Day. As one of my friends who is a veteran said so well, “Memorial Day isn’t when we remember what we won. It’s when we remember what we lost.”
For the last several days, I’ve been remembering the fallen. I started by recalling the first time the meaning of this holiday really hit home. It was after I had enlisted in the Air National Guard and I was driving with my father. It was very late, well after midnight, and as we were about to exit he asked me to drive a little farther. Minutes later, we pulled up to a Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
We got out of the car and sat down on a bench a few meters from the V sculpture engraved with names. My father had served in Vietnam and I was born while he was overseas, but we had never talked about what happened over there. We sat together in silence for the better part of an hour and he eventually uttered a single statement: “Darkness. That’s all I remember.” He then went up to the memorial and placed his hand over several names. It was an incredibly powerful moment.
Three decades after my father’s service in Vietnam, I deployed three times with the U.S. Army. After those experiences, I now know what it feels like to run my hand over names etched in stone. The sense of loss and grief is paralyzing.
As we honor the fallen on Memorial Day, please join me in praying for all of the families who lost loved ones to war. And let us also pray for the safe return of our women and men who are fighting to keep us safe around the globe.