By Rick Miranda, The Daily Bosco
I’m not particularly fond of holidays.
Before you start throwing stones and calling me a nihilist I should qualify that. I don’t hate them...I just don’t find them particularly celebratory. An annual remembrance of some event or notion that is usually overshadowed by the celebration itself. It’s usually a reason to drag family and friends together for mirth and merriment but with the exception of a few religious holidays little time is actually spent in consideration of the actual reason for a day off with pay. An unfortunate by-product of the Monday Holiday bill.
But Memorial Day 2011 was a bit different for me.
While many of the same rites and rituals were repeated across this great country of ours and many a family, including my own, hauled out the briquettes and lighter fluid, feasted on red meat and potato salad and listened to the latest family gossip, one extra detail set this holiday weekend aside; at least for me.
Some fifteen years ago my father passed from this world. Every year I mean to visit his grave, and like so many good intentions, time and circumstances seem to get in the way. None the less I do try to make it there when I can and since the anniversary of his death coincides with Memorial Day, I find those visits that I do make to be that much more emotional.
Like so many of his age, my dad spent his time in military service. For his time in uniform he was afforded the privilege of burial among his fellow servicemen in a special section of the cemetery. It moves me to visit this place of honor on a weekend such as this. Each grave adorned with a flag, some with flowers, a cross or the Magen David, it fills me with a sense of gratitude and pride that there is a collective recognition for the service that my father gave along with all these men and women.
Most buried here didn’t die in service to their country. They went on to live typical, some would say mundane, lives. To marry, work, pay taxes, raise children. To perpetuate and enjoy the society to which they had expressed their devotion through the military. Mundane, pedestrian, mediocre, perhaps to those who take it for granted, but so very precious to those who realize how blessed a life it truly is.
Some may have been heroes and some may have been clerks. For every warrior on the line there are ten behind helping to get the job done. Each performed their duties and no one of us afforded the pleasure of freedom can or should judge the depth or quality of their individual efforts. We leave that to our Creator and those that served with them. Whether draftee, volunteer, officer or enlisted these people gave a part of their lives to ensure our well being, that of our country and to a great extent that of the world.
While most were driven by a sense of duty I know not everyone serves for the same reason. I’m sure there are those here that joined for the benefits, financial help with college or simply had nowhere else to go at the time. To be sure some went unwillingly. But it’s their duty that we’re to remember, not their motivation. How many of us have done the greatest things in our lives for the noblest of reasons?
Since my father so loved his time in the service, I feel fortunate, grateful actually, that the occasion of his death coincided with this most appropriate day of national remembrance. It reminds me of his best qualities, qualities valued in any soldier, duty, reverence, integrity. And it reminds me of his hopes to not only instill those qualities within myself but that I pass that paternal obligation on to my sons as well.
In that respect, I can only hope to fulfill that obligation to him, to myself and to my children. So to all those that lay in this field of honor, all those that have served and to this, my first, best hero, I offer my gratitude and respect.