Monday, May 30, 2016

On this & every Memorial Day (#Poetry Monday*)

To those who went to war and did not return
but fell and died upon some foreign ground
from injury or disease or bomb or sniper’s shot
or broken hearts or minds or wills
we remember and salute you
on this and every Memorial Day.

To those who join us in our remembering
and celebration around our smoking grills
who served over there and there and there
but came back over here discharged
and are here with us now
we honor and salute you
on this and every Memorial Day.

To those others who come to mind as we remember;
to those who are serving now around here, over there;
to those who served, returned, and eventually left,
your lives lived well and full serving friends
and families with yourself;
we honor and salute you
thirdly and fourthly and fifthly
on this and every Memorial Day.

* Its PoMo! To learn about PoMo (POetry MOnday), click here. Every year about this time, on social media, a debate begins to bubble up over the right and wrong ways to celebrate and acknowledge Memorial Day and other days set aside to honor those who have or are serving in the military. Needless to say, strong opinions and more than a little self-righteous legalism ensues. To me, that people choose to fight over these issues is ironic and sad. And, ultimately, it all detracts from the focus they are trying to emphasize.

Frankly, whether it is Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day, Air Force Reserve Birthday, Armed Forces Day, Decoration or Memorial Day, or any other day that centers on honoring something  or someone related to military service, while the intended main focus of the day will be celebrated, there will always be a spillover of respect offered to others who are not the primary focus of the specific day. And this is okay. 

It does not take anything away from the traditions surrounding the day for others, nor should it incite arguments, disagreements, rants, or hurt feelings. If you have a specific manner for remembering and honoring on Memorial Day, do so freely, and further feel free to share your traditions with others, while respecting the different ways others may celebrate the day.

The point of the day is not us civilians, but those who have served, and, by association, those who are serving. For some we mourn that they are no longer with us, and with others we rejoice they are still here to share a burger and a beer by the grill.

What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. And when you are freely doing so, be grateful for those who have helped maintain such freedoms.

This poem is included in this collection:

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