As I write this, It’s Memorial Day, 2018. The day promises to be sunny and hot here in our little corner of NE Ohio, and will no doubt be marked by parades, music, food on the grill, laughter, and ringing in the “official” start of summer. I know what you’re thinking…it’s another “Don’t say Happy Memorial Day….” post. But it’s really not.
It’s one from our perspective; from the personal memories,lessons, and experiences of the brotherhood here we call CDT. See, we all have them…the names and the faces. The wonderful memories of people who were in our lives at a watershed of our history, and the nightmares that comes with the recall of how they were prematurely taken from us. Brothers in every sense of the word; we ate with them, laughed with them, sweat and sometimes bled with them, mourned them when they died, and revere them to this day. They are the best of us, we who have served, because they paid a price for us to the fates that we did not have to, and we are better men for having known them.
We represent the US Marine Corps, the US Navy, and even a foreign military. Some of us have seen service in Afghanistan, some in other conflicts in the world. The bond we share is not just in the legacy of service, but in the shared experience of losing friends while we were in that service to our country. Hell, one of us has even seen service with two countries. The biggest bond that we share is that we acknowledge that reverent fact that we stand on the shoulders of those service members who have gone before us, and that we understand completely the awesome responsibility that we have to live lives of honor, success, and longevity…lives that they gave up so that other may be free. We understand all too well the meaning of Memorial Day.
That just doesn’t include our generation. It includes our grandfathers and uncles, our Mom’s high school sweethearts, and family who waited decades for word of loved ones lost in faraway places. All of us have family and neighbors who have served; whether in World War 2, Korea, Vietnam, the First Gulf War, and now in the current war in the Middle East. I grew up a mile away from a cemetery where soldiers who were injured and died from the Battle of Brandywine during the American Revolution are buried. It was just as large a place of honor today as it was when I was a child and first saw the American flags sticking up off of small white headstones. Each of them gave up their youth…their health….their freedom…their potential for a future…for us.
Today’s world is a cauldron of divisiveness and turmoil over domestic issues. We squabble over power and who’s rights trump another’s. We argue, we disagree, and we complain of how unfair our relatively young country is in an era of excess and prosperity the likes of which the world has never seen. Every faction has their example of who is responsible for the success of our country, yet the simple truth remains that the foundation of this country is built upon the simple white marble headstone. It has been that way since those first stones were laid in that little Quaker Friends Meetinghouse cemetery, pictured above, near my home, and since the first one was laid by General Montgomery Meigs in Mrs. Lee’s rose garden. Acres and acres of white marble headstones….from the cliffs overlooking Normandy at Colleville-Sur-Mer to the rolling hills of Arlington, and the countless state cemeteries across the land. A virtual sea of white marble that represents THE vital piece of the building block of our nation. You see, we are not America, not a vibrant country of freedoms and democratic republicanism, without them. Each of them laid down the ultimate foundation, the ultimate payment…and it’s one that will never be corrupted or disputed. They literally gave their tomorrow for our today.
We here at CDT wish you and yours a Happy and respectful Memorial Day. We ask that you take the time, especially if you have kids, to take a few minutes out of your day to give thanks that such men and women existed, as we do each year on this day. Teach your kids about what the white marble headstones mean, and why the barbecue and fun is able to be had. If you would please, give a thought or two to the men and their families who WE personally honor each day, and especially today. Don’t worry about the “Happy” part…if they were here they would be joining in the celebrations with us and enjoying the day too. We owe it to them to honor them, live full lives, and take care of our families. But remember those foundational stones of white and the responsibility they remind us of: “…It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain…- Abraham Lincoln”. Semper Fidelis to all who we remember today…Fair winds and following seas.
– Gabe Atchison