As a kid, I remember going to a few Memorial Day ceremonies with my dad, who was himself a Vietnam veteran, and had served in the United States Army for over 20 years, both as a reservist and on active duty. The ceremonies had great meaning to me, for though I personally haven’t lost any of my loved ones to active combat, I understand what gratitude I and my family owe to those who have. Patriotism- not the blind, go-with-whatever-the-government-says-is-great kind, but the deep love and appreciation for the good of one’s homeland, is something he passed along to me. I am thankful to be living in America, a nation that isn’t perfect, but is beautiful. When I think of the wonders of our national parks, and the opportunities that are available here, I am thankful.
I wrote the poem below when I was a junior in high school. It was inspired by letters in I read in my California Language Arts textbook, letters penned by women who were left at home as their husbands fought in the Civil War.
For he who fought before
I knew that I would miss you
The day you said good-bye
And said the words I tried to hold
My darling- please don’t cry
And on that day I watched you walk
Away from mine own arms
And went so far beyond the trees
The meadows and the farms
I sat down in the sun and prayed
To Lord Almighty- Please!
Don’t ever take my love away
I beg you on my knees.
And with the word that came that day
In blustery lovelorn May,
And with the trees that sang the song
My love had passed away.
I stumbled on into the sand
And came my piercing cry
The scream resounding through the trees
Why did you have to die?
No answer came to me that day
As I looked to sky and sea
But I have learned, as many will
That freedom isn’t free.
I hope for you a restful, relaxing, and blessed Memorial Day. May we be thankful to those who have served.