The memorial day holiday has long been a time to remember those who have fallen in battle, spending their lives so that the rest of us in the U.S. could enjoy our freedoms and privilages in peace. While I honor the memories of those who have made that ultimate sacrifice, so I didn't have to, I have very little in the way of family background in the service.
My family hasn't had a whole lot to do with military careers since the Civil War in the 1800s. We were on the losing end in that conflict, and so what lives were spent there from our family were effectively thrown away according to some. I don't personally see it that way. The lived, fought, and died for what they honestly believed in, and as such I honor their memories along with those who have lived, fought, and died for all those things which the U.S. was founded on. All of them have been heros - whether it be the grunt in the field who did nothing but his duty, or the general whom history records as valiant and a great leader. From those who did nothing out of the ordinary, to those who went so far above and beyond the call of mere duty as to recieve the recognition of our government with the Congressional Medal of Honor - each of them has been a hero to one of us along the road.
It is not these heros that I want to remember today, though. Many will spend at least a few minutes of their holiday taking time out from shopping sales, backyard bbqs, trips to the lake or gun range to remember those who have given their lives to the cause of peace, freedom, and prosperity. I honor their sacrifice, and what it has meant to my life.
But my efforts, instead, will focus on those heros in my Personal life. The people who saw to it that I could live without fear, prosperously, with a sense of both respect and gratitude for our constitution and the privilages it grants me. Who raised me, cared for me, disciplined me when I was wrong, praised my efforts when I was right, picked me up and dusted me off when I fell down to set me on my feet again and take another chance. I was sheltered as much as they could from life's ugliness, while they tried to see to it I wasn't so sheltered and naieve as to be handicapped by that sheltering. While many see it as a flaw, I take a bit of pride in saying, "Yes, my parents spoild me to a certain extent." Why? Because it means that they Always saw to it that I had what I Needed, and when they could and it wouldn't be specifically harmful, they sometimes went without things that THEY wanted to see to it that I had things *I wanted instead.
They were my best friends, my confidants, my teachers, my preachers, the rocks that I leaned on for strength and support, and the guiding light on my path through life.
They were my parents. I love them. I miss them. I grieve that they are no longer here to talk to, to spend time with, to go to as sounding boards and saviors. I honor the sacrifices they made in Their personal lives, in an effort to see to it that I thrived and prospered and grew in My personal life. I regret not telling them more often, while they were here, just how much I loved them, and appreciated everything they did for me. I can only hope to be half as good as a person as they were while I was growing up, and even after I became an adult myself.
My father, especially, who currently lays dying in an ICU bed in the hospital, not expected to live for more than a few more days, will forever hold a special place in my heart. He is the man that all others must live up to, and few will suceed in the attempt. He was not even a biological factor in my existance - but he was the type of man willing to take on responcibility for a pair of brats not even his own, because they were the offspring of the woman he loved and cherished and adored - and to offer them the love that one would expect from a biological parent. He didn't have to - but insisted on adopting my brother and I, taking legal and moral responcibility for the pair of us - and never once in the course of my life did he give me reason to think he might have regretted doing so at times when one of us was particularly bad. He took me in, he raised me as his own, he loved me unconditionally, and he did his best to see to it that I was equipped to have a good life. He taught me respect for the rights given to me by an accident of birth, and to fight - and if need be die - to maintain those rights for myself and others. He taught me discipline. He taught me compassion. He taught me to stand up for myself, and to take pride in my accomplishments. He taught me to live, to laugh, to love, to cry, and to rejoice.
And for as long as I live, no matter where I go or what I do or what life happens to bring or take away .... he will forever be MY hero.