Memorial Day was yesterday. Everyone was posting BBQ photos, pool party and having a great time overall photos. While it is nice to have a long weekend and get a break from some things in life, I was surprised when I asked a few friends what they thought of Memorial Day. I was a bit shocked that a lot of people thought Memorial Day was just a day to celebrate the end of the school year with one last long weekend before summer vacation started. A few had no idea it even had anything to do with military.
Memorial Day is a bit more special to me then some people I know. Being that I was born and raised in an all Army household. My mom and dad were both in the Army and when my mom got out, my dad was in it until I was a teenager. I got to travel the world and experience a lifetime worth of cultures and memories at such a young age. I appreciate my parents for giving me that opportunity to see the world because of the careers they chose.
When I was seven years old, we moved to Germany because of talk that the United States may be going to war. So my family, along with many others were shipped overseas. Not much later, the war broke out. We watched as all my friends dads and moms were packing up to be sent over to Saudi Arabia to fight in the Gulf War in the early 1990's. My dad was on the list to be shipped to war. It was hard to understand that I may not see my father ever again. The thought of my dad going to fight, shoot, and kill people and then possibly getting killed himself had our family crying so many nights.
My dad was a very important person in his group. He held certain codes and paperwork needed for war. Thus, we knew there was no way he could get out of it. He had to leave us and go. I'll never forget crying with my friends at school who had their parents already sent away to the Gulf. Being a child is hard during a time like that. I couldn't even imagine what my mother was feeling in her heart and stomach. I knew she was heart broken and so sad.
A few days before he was supposed to be on the plane and shipped off to war, he was suffering a lot of pain in his back. He went to the hospital to be checked out. It turned out he needed surgery and needed it right away. I remember so vividly visiting him after school each day after the operation. He was in so much pain. But that surgery saved his life. In many more ways than one. If it had not been for his surgery, he would have gone to war and I have no idea if he would have come back home to us.
My mom said that the officers got all the paperwork they needed from our house that he was supposed to take with him. They even tried to convince the hospital to let him be released because they needed him. My dad couldn't walk for months after his surgery so there was no way he could be out there fighting people.
My dad was lucky. However, some of my friend's were not. They lost their parents or other relatives in that war. It was a very sad time for everyone. I remember so many of my friends were absent from school and everyone seemed to know why but didn't talk about it. It finally calmed down after a while and life went back to normal. All of us kids were playing and having a great time as if nothing happened.
It wasn't that we were all those years sad and crying. Life went on like usual but when you would hear of someone not returning home, it was the worst feeling. It was also a bit confusing as a child as well. Why was there so much hate in the world that we had to fight and kill each other? My friends and I didn't understand. Now that I'm older, Memorial Day means so much more to me then buying beer and having a BBQ or getting 30% off a big screen tv. It means so much more. It's not a happy day. It's a day that I reflect back on the sadness of ones who lost their lives to protect this country and gave their all. It's a day to honor their memories and value life.
I appreciate everything my father did to sacrifice for myself, my family, my freedom. Even though we have our moments, my dad is a hero to me. He gave his all for 22 years to help protect our freedom. I'm so blessed everyday that he made it out of the Army alive and am proud to call him my solider, my father, my hero.
Thank you to him and the countless others who risk it all everyday.