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Monday, May 30, 2016

MEMORIAL DAY

Look closely at the picture left and you will see names engraved  - yes, it was my first trip to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial years ago.

Many stories are being told this weekend about war, those lost, and more (such as on our local Penn Live [here] and they NEED to be told. Even more, they need to be LISTENED to. In the years I have posted my ramblings here, I have never really wanted to voice an opinion on the subject. I am completely baffled why, in these supposedly "enlightened" times that we can't love and respect one another, appreciating our differences and welcoming our many similarities. Sadly, we are not there.... not even close. It is disheartening.

You hear all the time about the cost of conflicts measured in billions of dollars, but today it is measured in casualties AND survivors. They BOTH matter and BOTH need to have their time served on our minds.

I tried to enlist in military service when I was young. The times were tough, jobs were NOT readily available, and it seemed my future was going nowhere. I knew it would be challenging to have authority figures who were NOT my parents telling me which leg to put in my pants first. I wasn't sure I could seriously consider it, but I went to the recruiting center anyway. I asked them, "If I pass the aptitude test for aircraft mechanic, can you guarantee me the position?" Well, it turns out they COULD have but the young man I spoke to THAT day said no, so I left without much thought. It may have been the single most life-altering moment in my life. I just didn't know it.

I wouldn't have gotten into the insurance business, seen my capabilities grow in directions I never imagined, meeting so many fine folks along the way, I can't even begin to count how many. I wouldn't have lived in Philly or DC, experiencing all that the area and it's people had to offer. I might not have took that "once in a lifetime" trip to Germany with Mom and met my relatives, many of which are now gone.

Would it have been just as enlightening? Perhaps. Would there have been dangers that I may have had to endure? I doubt it. Not then. If I stayed in for decades then it might have been different, but who knows what the unchosen future would have revealed. I like to think I am the same person who strives for more and that may have led to promotions, just as in my real life. I would have seen more of the world, although I traveled a lot. I would have had challenges to overcome that I couldn't imagine now.

Sitting here today, I feel the same heartache as I walked up to "the Wall" the very first time. Tears came out so easily and unexpectedly. Of course I knew about this monument. It was a wall. Nothing prepared for the realization of all those PEOPLE.... the names stretched far into the distance.... each one had family, friends, maybe even kids that saw them go off, hoping they would return soon. The day that they found out the return was going to be in a casket and not embracing in joy is forever etched in minds all over the country. Each one of these HUMAN BEINGS scrawled on this stone represents the loss of not only a life, but of the possibilities of THEIR future. THEIR travels never booked. THEIR meeting strangers that would become friends. THEIR success at work or rewards of a life well-led. Forever a closed book. Forever a story untold.

It's a sad day, but even sadder if we don't remember what we have and how we are able to keep it. Wave the flag and keep those who carried it overseas and overland in your hearts. Act in a way THEY would be proud of. They earned that and more...




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