Let There Be Peace on Earth, and Let it Begin With Me
Sunday, May 25, 2008
You know, I almost went to bed early tonight. If I had done so, I would have missed the National Memorial Day Concert on PBS (my hometown channel is WTTW-11). I wrote some details about my family's history with military service in this post, but tonight's event was something different. Something memorable, something to think on.

Whether or not I agree with our president, our laws, or the overall ignorance of a society so blessed and lucky, there will always be war. There will never be a time when someone is not hurting, is not in pain, is not giving of their own life so that I might live my own. I came upon this televised concert about halfway through - just in time to hear the orchestra play the Armed Forces Medley. When each branch of the armed forces' loyalty came up in the music, spectators and attendees who had served as part of that particular part of our military (or are currently serving in that wing of our armed forces) were invited to stand and sing along, salute, etc.

It was not five seconds into the Coast Guard anthem (the first of the group) and I was bawling uncontrollably. I was taken aback by the pride that each spectator took in representing his or her participation in the fight. Instead of a solemn regard, there was joy in each of their faces: the elderly woman sporting her Navy cap and jacket, the African-American gentleman and his son standing in a salute, flanking one another while the Army music played, the pony-tailed tourist with the large Nikon hanging from his neck - tears in his eyes while he stood to represent the Marine Corps. They stood for me, they stood tonight for themselves - for us all.

I didn't even bother to stem the flow of my own tears, instead letting them run down my neck and onto my right hand, which in a surprise even to myself, I found resting on my heart.

Thank you to all those who have given their lives, the families who have given of their loved ones, and particularly the soldiers who have returned, with wounds far deeper than the ones that manifest themselves in the physical. Freedom is not free, and this yearly holiday doesn't even begin to touch the amount of respect that each and every American should have for you and what you have done for our country, our people, our future. God bless you, and thank you on this Memorial Day.