Monday, May 27, 2013

Today's Recipe: Gratitude

I can smell charcoal lighter fluid burning this evening as Hobbes and I cruise down the block for our usual evening stroll. It is Memorial Day weekend, and except for the clusters of parked cars around the homes having barbecues, there's not much of anything unusual at all. No passing cars. Quiet. My little dog is surprised as we veer off our usual walk into the little old cemetery. Dogs aren't really allowed in here, so I tighten up his leash and do what I do every Memorial Day. I stop at the flag marked graves of servicemen and thank them.

So many of us live so well in this country, and it's so easy to forget the women and men that went off to  war, usually in places far from their loved ones, in the service of keeping our democracy safe. Some died of their wounds, some came home disabled, and some came home  to help their families and communities continue to grow. Everyone who goes to war is changed; you give up a bit of your innocence when you see the horrors of a war.

My father ran MASH hospitals in WWII, in France and England. He was in the Army so long during the war, since medical personnel were so badly needed, that he joined the Reserves when he came home and finished a 20-year stint. The stories he shared with me when I was a child were funny ones; like bathing in a bombed-out asylum in England since it still had running water. As I got older, he told me about things he'd seen that I'd rather not have known. Oddly, my dad was in no way gung-ho about military action; the human side of it bothered him too much. He knew that some wars are inevitable and justified, and others we fight are not. He knew how to choose.
My father, Bill C., about 1940, in uniform.
Today is the day we set aside, not to smoke up the neighborhood with our grills during the unofficial start of summer, but to express gratitude that we are free to burn those hot dogs. Thank a veteran today. One in your family, a friend or in your neighborhood. And please remember those who've gone and what they gave for you.

Thank you.

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