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Memorial Thoughts

Long ago, we enjoyed celebrating my grandson’s birthday at the beach. As he waited for friends and family to arrive, he gripped a huge balloon that looked like the world.

More on that in a moment.

As Memorial Day approaches, it is our first welcome to upcoming summer vacations, longer evenings, beach days, and dazzling sunsets.

But as I think about Memorial Day, two pictures come to my mind.

Back when I was eleven, visiting my girlfriend in her small home, I saw a photo of her older brother— a handsome young man, proudly wearing his military uniform. Sadly, he’d been killed in Vietnam.

Photo: Gary Engebretson, Vietnam Memorial

I was too young to fully consider what that profound loss meant. My friend had already lost her father in an accident, now she’d lost her brother. Seeing the photo and the sadness in her mother’s eyes was unforgettable.

The other picture that pierced my heart was in adulthood. A mother lost her son in Afghanistan when a roadside bomb detonated. During a Memorial service I watched her receive the traditional folded American flag. Deeply moving, terribly sad.

Photo: Betsy Schultz at Captain Joseph House for Gold Star Families

Back to that photo of my grandson holding his world balloon, at that time we were living in post- 9/11 America. This photo reminds me that even in a less than perfect world, we are free. If only more in our world could be so free.

I honor the American soldiers we have lost while preserving our freedom. I also pray for the Gold Star Families mourning an unforgettable loss. Memorial Day is just one day, but their loss lasts a lifetime.


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