Today is Memorial Day — a remembrance of those who have fallen, and of those who serve or have served in the service of our country. Aside from the sales, BBQs, and auto racing that comes with this weekend, we should all take a moment to pause and remember those who’ve made those sales, BBQs and auto racing a reality of the freedom we enjoy here.
Yesterday in church, Charles had all the veterans in the pews stand, and receive the applause of the remainder of the congregation. While I mention my time in the Air Force — usually spinning yarns about my time there — I don’t really think of myself as a veteran the way I perceive the word. I was on that caretaker shift, in that long spell (relatively speaking) between the end of Vietnam and the beginning of the first Gulf War. I served during the Cold War, part of the mutually assured destruction tenet. And, of us who served then, who could’ve believed that the world could’ve gotten so safe, seeing the USSR dissolve and the nuclear terror I’d had nightmares about since I was a teen all but disappear overnight.
And who would’ve thought that out of the giddy era, the world would change in an instant, and we would find ourselves and our country in a constant effort of war, almost 1984-esque in its scope of effort, secrecy and intrusion. A war with no real end in sight, no tangible endgame, and no way out.
So, yes, I’m still uncomfortable when asked to stand in church as a veteran, not because I’m ashamed of my time — I’d like to think that the time I spent minding the store helped lay the foundation for a decade of truly golden times — but because I don’t think my time means as much as those who served before me and those who are serving now. They are the heroes, putting life and limb on the line so some yahoo in middle of the country can pound on his keyboard on a Monday away from work.
I salute them.