Memorial Day Isn’t Just About Those Who Died

Hi, everybody.  This is Memorial Day weekend, a time set aside to remember and pray for those who gave their lives in military service to our country.

War has laid a terrible price on our country.  The bloodiest war was our Civil War, when our country battled itself and over 600,000 people lost their lives.  Memorial Day often brings memories of World War II and the “Greatest Generation” that sacrificed 400,000 young people to fight genocide and imperialism in Europe and Asia.  The Korean and Vietnam wars saw almost 100,000 casualties between them.  More recently, since 2001 at least 6500 military lives have been lost in the Afghanistan and Iraq war efforts

This weekend is a time to celebrate the beginning of summer and gather with friends and family.  While pondering what to write about this weekend, I thought it would be fitting not only to thank those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, but also to consider what their sacrifice has meant to those around them.

Let’s face it, no one lives in a vacuum.  Think about your own life.  You have family, friends, coworkers, neighbors and acquaintances.  If something were to happen to you, it would affect not only you, but every person around you in some way.

I’d like to consider three different types of people who have been affected by deaths in wartime.

Families And Other Loved Ones

When a person dies their family and friends are left to grieve.  Military casualties tend to be young and may leave spouses and young children behind.  If you have friends in the military, please take a moment this weekend to reach out to their families to let them know you’re thinking of them and sharing the burden of worry.

This weekend when we think of those who have been lost, it brings the worry that much closer to home.  “Please not my husband.”  “Please not my daughter.”  “Please not my daddy.”  These are the wordless prayers running constantly through the hearts and minds of all those with a family member in service, even more so this weekend.

When we pray for the peaceful rest of those lost, please also remember those who answered a doorbell to see a crisply uniformed officer on the doorstep with a sober expression, waiting to speak the words that would tear a world apart.

Wounded Warriors

Generally those lost in combat are part of a squad of servicemen and -women.  The incident that took lives often spares the lives of some in the unit but leaves them wounded.  Loss of limbs, traumatic brain injuries and other injuries require long, hard work to recover.  Some never recover fully.

Many of us have seen the commercials for Wounded Warrior Project.  It’s true that our injured service members need financial support, but even if a financial donation isn’t possible there is a lot that we can do to help.  Prayer works, so please remember our recovering soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in your prayers.

If you’d like to bring a smile to a recovering service member’s face, you might write some letters and cards, especially with your children.  Address them to Any Wounded Service Member, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, 8901 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20889.

Lasting Scars

I have cared for active duty and disabled service members struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Flashbacks, nightmares, grief and guilt are all part of living with a history of military service.

Even those who seem able-bodied and functioning well after transitioning back to civilian life may be hiding deep scars.  If you have a good friend that you know was in the military, please make a point to reach out and thank them this weekend.  If they are a VERY good friend and they never speak of their military service, you might gently let them know that if they ever need someone to talk to about that time, you’re available to listen.  Not judging, not trying to fix anything, just listening with love to whatever they need to say.

Memorial Day is a time to remember those who have been lost while serving and protecting the United States.  Please also remember the loved ones left behind, those wounded but surviving, and those who live with the psychological scars that military service left behind.

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