Today is a day set aside for remembering and giving thanks to the women and men who have served and died in our military so that we may live the lives we live. I could have been one of those, but I was a lucky one–I lived through my time of service. Today, I remember my friends. I pay homage to my squadron mates who were not as lucky and paid the ultimate price for the freedom you and I share today.
Unfortunately today, many now believe Memorial Day is nothing more than a three-day weekend. They do not affiliate their independence with anything more than it is their right. They don’t get it. They do not realize good people died for their opportunities to do anything they want to do this day.
Sometimes, when I was blasting around the skies with my hair on fire, I wondered why I did what I did. One reason was that the Navy trained me to do a job. For that, and my fellow pilots, I was always at the ready.
Sometimes, I wondered . . . why?
Why should anyone go out on the pointy end of the spear? My friends and I were at the apex of the spear. If there were to be trouble, we were there to stop it. Today, a new
generation of sailors, marines, soldiers, and Coast Guardsmen are out at the tip of the same spear. Doing the job, keeping the faith. I cannot tell you how proud I am of them all. I am so very thankful to them. I cannot imagine a world without those rough men standing by at the ready to do terrible things that we may sleep peacefully this night and every night.
They are essentially–standing guard. For us.
When I stood in their ranks, sometimes I did not know why I was there. I just knew I had to be there, but sometimes I questioned why. I also wondered for whom. I mean, when it is dark and storming at sea, and the deck is pitching up and down and rolling back and forth, and your jet is running low on fuel, you really have to ask yourself serious questions. And you have to concentrate really hard on getting back aboard safely.
At the time, I did not fully understand.
Now, some 25 years later, the answer hits me harder than I could have or ever would have imagined or known all those years long ago.
I was out there, as part of the force protecting America. I was there to ensure there was an America for all of my nieces and nephews. And though I did not know them at the time, my stepchildren and their children.
As I said, I was a lucky one. This day, and Veterans’ Day, I will always stop and think of all my friends who did give their lives for all of us. Thank you, Darryl, Ziggy, Phredd, and all others.
Keep the faith.
©2011 J. Clark