A Memorial Day Message

Photo by Justin Casey on Unsplash

It’s Memorial Day.

And I’ll admit (rather shamefully) that most years this day comes and goes without my giving its significance a single thought. I appreciate it as a weekend lengthener, another morning to sleep in, an extra twenty-four hours to get things done. But rarely do I acknowledge the many men and women who are responsible for giving me the freedom to do those things.

So today, rather than rushing unconsciously into my to-do list, I am taking a moment to pause and reflect on those to whom I owe an unrepayable debt of gratitude:

  • To the dedicated service men and women who willingly braved front lines, paying a hefty price in defense of our many liberties and blessings, I thank you.
  • To those who lost their lives in battles they didn’t initiate and wars they didn’t choose to fight, I thank you.
  • To those in noncombat roles—the medics and mechanics and numerous others—who died while working in support of the combat troops, I thank you.
  • To those left behind: The spouses, children, parents, siblings, friends, and other family members who had to go on even when their loved ones didn’t return home, I thank you.
  • To the soldiers who made it home, but were so unequipped to overcome their wounded souls and PTSD-tortured minds that they stopped the pain by their own hands, I thank you.

Let us all stop for just a minute this morning to say a little prayer or offer up a moment of silence in respect to these and any and all others who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service of the United States of America. Let us always be grateful. Let us always remember.

If you like, please feel free to share in the comments the names of those whose lives you are celebrating today, so we, too, can honor them.

Life: The Musical

I sat in a waiting room a couple weeks ago, doing what one does in such a place: waiting. The only other person in the room—a man who I’d seen in passing on my way in—was blocked from my view by the angle of the wall as he spoke with the receptionist and another woman behind the counter. I perused the table of available reading material, only vaguely aware of their conversation until I was fully alerted to it when the man suddenly broke into song.

I don’t mean that figuratively (if there is even a figurative way to take it). I mean he literally began singing. And this wasn’t just a hush-hush, passive-voiced, let-me-sing-a-few-words-to-jog-your-memory kind of song. He belted it out in a rich baritone as if a Broadway stage had popped up beneath his feet, a microphone thrust into his hand, a follow spot bathing him in a beam of light.

His performance has stayed with me since that day, playing on repeat in my mind with an accompanying sense of wonder. Truthfully, it wasn’t the man’s powerful vocals that made an impression on me. Nor was it the song itself. (I didn’t recognize the tune and the lyrics vanished from memory almost immediately.) No, what struck me most was that this man had an impulsive urge to sing and rather than tamp it down out of embarrassment, he followed it with gusto.

As a forever fan of musicals—Mary Poppins, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and Grease being some of my childhood favorites—I’ve often wondered what it might be like if real life followed the example of these music-inspired stories. How freeing it would be if anytime we were overcome with a strong emotion—be it joy, grief, amazement, frustration—we felt as confident as this man did to express it boldly and unapologetically in song.

If your life were a musical, what lyrics would fit your day? What song would you bust out singing right now, right in this moment?