I think of the soldiers whose lives ended in a foreign land, or even here at home, far away from their friends and families. I think of their last moments, as they looked into the eyes of a person they may have known only a little while, but whose bond held them tighter than blood shared among their relatives, or the fond memories of friendship forged in different times, in different places. People grow close when under attack, and I like to think that the people protecting our freedom didn’t die alone.
Or, I wonder if they died with eyes closed. Living and breathing one moment, then oblivion, with no time to reflect on what they were losing, what they had preserved or what they died fighting for. I think of them, and though they are faceless to me, and without a voice, their spirit has earned the space they occupy in my mind, and in my heart. Through my actions I believe that in some way, somehow, through the collective consciousness that binds humanity I honor them, and let them know that they did not die for nothing.
They died so that I could live, and live well, and by squeezing every bit of life that living sees fit to afford me, and finding joy where sorrow threatens to overcome; happiness in loss, and purpose in a sometimes dreary existence they live on through my eyes; and can be heard in my voice, and though they sacrificed all, they will live forever through my actions.
For them, I live well, am grateful, enjoy my life and honor those who have fallen.Â I embrace this life with them, for them and because of them.
Freedom isnâ€™t free. We have to earn it.
I wasÂ a firefighter, not a soldier. My job had its share of risks, but nobody was trying to kill me, most of the time, anyway. People try to kill soldiers, and are successful so often that we have designated a day to commemorate those who have fallen. In true American fashion, we have turned that day of commemoration into a weekend long summer kick-off party.
IF I were a soldier, and IF I had made the ultimate sacrifice, and IF I could haunt the living I would be manning the cooler, cracking the cold ones for my friends and family, firing up the grill and enjoying every second of the party.
The fallen fought to preserve something dear to them, and the preservation of what they believed in is what they died for. I know a lot of Armed Service members, and to the man or woman they embrace life, and live it to the fullest-every day, even on the day that we are supposed to be solemn, and remember those who fought and died to preserve our freedom the best way they know how by enjoying the gift of freedom.
Please take a moment this weekend to remember the lives that were lost preserving it. A moment of private silence and reflection does it for me. Then, it’s time to enjoy the things those we remember cannot, because what good is dying for people who choose to live on their knees?