It’s Memorial Day tomorrow. What is it exactly that we are charged to remember?
My father was a member of the greatest generation, having served in the U.S. Navy for 39 months. He was stationed in California and was never in combat, despite some apocryphal vignettes he regaled us with. I’ve never served in the military and none of my friends have served. If not for my job, I would have very scant exposure to military professionals. I have numerous patients who have served in all branches of the military during the 1940's and 50's. Many are true heroes who recall their service with understated modesty. I have also cared for many Vietnam vets who still bear physical and psychological scars of a war we couldn’t win and should never have joined.
Freedom is not free, a quote that moved me deeply when I first saw it on the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. I know that Memorial Day has deep meaning for families who have sacrificed or have a loved one wearing the uniform. Folks like me just can't have the same depth of appreciation of what Memorial Day means.
I’ve never worn the uniform. I’ve never marched in formation. I’ve never endured boot camp.
I wish I had learned to salute so I can salute you all.