Memorial Day is about honoring the fallen. Veterans Day is about thanking those who serve and have served.
I don't really know any of them.
Oh, my late father and grandfather served in each of the World Wars. But that is the sum total of my experience with knowing people in the Armed Forces. Pretty much.
My life has not been personally affected by the loss of a loved one in military service. I don't have close friends or relatives serving today. More and more I think that there exists a cultural divide between those like me whose worlds are insulated and those for whom being in the military or having loved ones who serve is very much a part of life.
This is bound to influence how I experience a day like Memorial Day. I imagine battle and loss of life in a distant sense, like something one reads about in a book. I can't even imagine what that would feel like if it were my husband, or sister, or best friend. Having a volunteer force has created a divide of sorts. And like the other divides in our country--race, political, economic, ethnic--we experience a sense of separateness which can reinforce misunderstanding.
Although I know that today is a day to honor those who died in service to their country, I want to direct you to this article about the new Veterans Monument which will be located in Columbia. The mission of the this monument is to honor both veterans and their families. This vision is remarkable, I think. Most such statues look backwards. This one will be rooted in the present and continue to be relevant in the future.
"The concept for this monument revolves around family," said Gillette, a married father of two sons. "The idea is to create a central place to celebrate and give thanks for our veterans, while also recognizing the service and support of family members."
If you have a family member or friend who never came home, I want you to know I am thinking of you today. For there is sacrifice not only in the valor of the fallen, but also in the love of those they leave behind.