Today is Memorial Day...right? The meaning of the day isn't lost on me, but it sure seems to be lost on more than a few people out there. As I recall, it's the day we honor all those who have died in service to our nation, from the Revolutionary War to the present. As much as I love to have another day away from the office, I can't help but think that we're not doing something right when Memorial Day becomes a hotlinks and Budweiser holiday.
I was with my volunteer organization (Soldiers' Angels) this past Saturday at the Highland Games in Orange County, doing what we do...educating the public about civilian troop support efforts and trying to enlist their help. At best, consciousness raising is the most you can hope for. What I found most fascinating was the reaction of the adults I encountered. At each booth we set up at a public event, one entire side of the booth is a dedicated letter writing area. We have note cards and pens (and crayons for the kids, but we'll get to that in a minute), and ask if they'd like to jot down a few words of encouragement to a deployed soldier. We vet them for hate mail at the end of the day; and yes people do write really horrible things and drop them into the box. I suppose they think we won't actually go through and read them. Once cleared, the notes are forwarded to CO's and Chaplains for distribution to those who don't get mail from home. And there are LOTS of them - as I write this there are 470 soldiers who are not hearing from loved ones and are waiting for adoption by one of you. But I digress...
Ah yes, the notes...adults who will stand and rave about what a great job we SA volunteers are doing, actually recoil in horror when we ask them to just write a little note. As if by doing so, they are somehow complicit in a wartime aggression and they don't want to soil their hands. Children on the other hand, become part poet and part Picasso. They have an understanding of missing your parents, of needing to be connected; and because writing to someone has not yet become an obligation, they are totally dialed in to the joy of sending and receiving a letter. Their artwork choked me up, their struggle to make it perfect because they understood that it was important, well... that made me have to take a walk.
So today I ask you to be get in touch with your inner 8 year old. Think about exactly what Memorial Day means. It means that someone will be missing someone today. That not everyone will be knocking back a beer, hovering over the BBQ, and laughing with their friends. Today is the day we want them to know that we acknowledge their loss.
To bring us together in remembrance, Congress officially established the National Moment of Remembrance in 2000. This act of reflection will take place at 3pm today wherever you are. Major League Baseball games will stop, Amtrak trains will blow their whistles, and 6,200 Buglers Across America will play "Taps." I hope you join them - and me - for just a brief moment.
Since we're on the subject of reflective silence and the military; I thought I'd leave you with a quiet and powerful performance by the Marine Corps Silent Drill Team. There's a mournful beauty in what they do that just seems to be kind of appropriate.
Oh..and the number is now up to 477.
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti