My body was chilled and stunned. My sleepy mind began to buzz. Andrew who? Did she mean who I thought she meant? Yes, she did. Then, in rapid fire, my mind played the few sweet moments we’d had together, and I imagined the beautiful life Andrew could have had. My thoughts turned to his twin brother and best friend, who must have felt the loss down to his marrow. It simply couldn’t be true, yet it was.
A year or two later my cousin Lindsey fell in love with the man she’d later marry, a young man in the army. I watched her grieve when he was shipped to the Middle East not once but twice. Not long after his second tour, and just after he left the army, his unit was shipped out for the third time. And we all now know that third, fourth, and even fifth tours are not uncommon. Since Severyn has been home, I haven’t asked questions. I don’t want to know, and I imagine he doesn’t want to tell what he saw and did. Because he went, I don’t have to know.
Because of Andrew and Severyn, my perspective on Memorial Day has been forever changed. What our soldiers do, what their families do, is not about fireworks and cookouts. It’s not even about politics. When the President says go, they go. These men and women have chosen to be a part of something bigger than themselves, something they cannot control and sometimes don’t even like. They know war has existed since the beginning of time and that even in times of peace, fighting could be only a heartbeat away. They know someone has to do it, and so they do. They know they may not come home.
We can’t begin to thank them, but we can remember that Memorial Day is about more than enjoying the sun. If you’re celebrating with your family today, hug them close and be thankful they are with you. Do it for those who can’t.