I get moody every Memorial Day. Subconsciously, my body knows it's that special day. I usually spend the day reflecting on the friends I have lost through the years and reflecting on my family members just joining. Every male in my immediate family has served in the Department of the Navy (Dad, brothers, myself) and now my nephew has just graduated from boot camp and will be headed overseas (as did his father). I think all of us had gotten hurt at one time or another while on duty. But we stuck it out. You know, those days, being in the military was thought of suspiciously. What, you can't find a job? These days, it's a real honor. The military are having to turn away people because they are out of slots.
My youngest brother just got back from Afghanistan (his third tour), and he is now discharged from the military. He's back home with my mom and dad and going to school again. I told my mom how weird it was that four years had passed already. I was terrified always when he first went overseas, just as if he were my own son. Which, in numbers, he could very well be. I'm literally about twice his age. But anyway, when I reflect on certain things on Memorial Day, I try to be eternally grateful for our young adults heading over the world in defense of our freedom and others they have sworn to help. And I am grateful that all my family members finally made it home alive. Don't get me wrong, most of us have some mental and physical issues that we will have to contend with the rest of our lives. But I have to tell myself, it was my job and duty and, as the saying goes, "You knew the job was dangerous when you took it."
There are times when I miss being in the military, but not that often lol. I think maybe I miss my buddies. You get really close to your squad. We all slept, ate, exercised and worked together. We watched out for one another. I felt safe with these guys, even though danger lurked everywhere.
So, with my nephew being the newest addition to the U.S. Navy, I guess I'm going to have to learn to stop worrying so much. I thought I was finally done when my little brother discharged. Now, I know what my parents felt like when I first left home and the country. They always said I'd find out what it would feel like when I got older. Darn it (heavy sigh) once again, my parents were right. If you know a veteran or a member of their family, take a moment when you get the chance to let them know we all appreciate their dedication. They're the reason our country is so great. Those that came before them and themselves.
Take a moment and get a good look around at all the things you have, which you wouldn't have elsewhere in the world. Your rights, freedom, material things, home ownership, healthy children. This IS the best country in the world.
KyleD is a Nolan County resident.