While Memorial Day, a day to honor those who died in combat, is not to be confused with Veterans Day, the day we honor all Veterans, I can’t help but think of those in my family who came before me in the service of our nation; regardless of whether they died in combat or not. I’m the eighth generation in the military on my father’s side. Both of my parents were Army brats. Let’s just say that it runs pretty deep!
My father’s father served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. He saw a lot of the worst in humanity yet remained a thoughtful, gentle and compassionate man throughout his life. One of my deeper regrets is that my wife and children never met him. He was all that is good in a soldier (and sailor as he was a Seabee in WWII). Anyone currently serving would do well to emulate the dedication to nation and to his fellow human that he embodied.
Alva Lineal Byers died while I was attending Airborne School with the Army during one of my summers attending the Air Force Academy. I’m very thankful I was allowed to leave training to attend his memorial. I wasn’t able to attend his funeral at Arlington and it was years before I was able to visit his grave site, Section 65, Grave 4129. Walking through the grounds of Arlington is something that isn’t easily described. I felt great waves of gratitude and awe at the sheer number of graves. I felt small connections with those buried there as I read their headstones, many of them with their beloved buried along with them on the other side of their grave. My grandmother is buried there, the two of them sharing a headstone, head to head for eternity.
I’m deeply grateful to all of those who gave their lives in the service of this great nation. I’m grateful for their sacrifice that allowed me to serve and to continue to serve albeit in a very different capacity now. Since my Air Force days, I’ve dedicated my adult life to the work of reducing our consumption of energy. This isn’t the right place to discuss the deep interconnectedness of our lifestyle with energy, but it is what drives me ahead every day and I’m thankful to those who’ve made my choices and those of all of my fellow Americans possible.
Have a great weekend and please take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices of those who died protecting our freedoms.