It is a long weekend here in the United States. Families are in many cases together, preparing for summer’s start. It is a day of patriotic colors and words. A day to remember. But do we? So often we think of honoring the fallen soldiers of Belleau-Wood, Bastogne, Okinawa, Vietnam. But what of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan? Just yesterday, more fallen soldiers…
So today when we unwrap our bright red, white, and blue paper plates and grill up more BallPark franks and argue over relish and chips and dips, let us not forget the families who will not be celebrating today.
The families torn apart by their soldiers returning in either flag-draped coffins or with broken bodies and spirits. The families forever missing a person at their table because the monsters in some soldiers’ nightmares are worse than any enemy and harder to fight because they are impossible to silence. The families who are missing soldiers — some who never left foreign soil and some who stand beside the freeway holding cardboard signs. The families who proudly snapped photographs of young men and women who dreamed of finding their place and came home to find only broken dreams, homes, marriages, and lives. The families who fought so hard for all of us who now must cash their welfare checks because their benefits are less than there are days in the month.
They are other families. But they are our family too.
So celebrate this nation. Celebrate the men and women who volunteer to protect it. Celebrate.
But create a memorial fitting of the cost that most of us never have to pay…
The headstones shine white against the lush grass,
Reseeded every year with a mixture of strong seeds.
The hardy, the sturdy, the ones most likely to survive,
Combine to grow the green blanket covering the
Hardy and sturdy American seeds who did not survive.
The marble, etched with letters and numbers, is all that remains.
Lost are hopes and dreams and mothers’ babies
Grown up and gone.
All across the land are cemeteries with matching marble
And well-tended grass. Groundskeepers, solemn and kind,
Clipping and caring for all that remains of our soldiers.
Honoring each fallen soldier, not because of where the
Soldier fell but for the reasons that soldier fell.