It’s early on Monday morning and though I do not have to be at work today as it is a “holiday,” I am awake and thinking of my boys who do not get a “holiday” like we do. They are like so many others who have made sacrifices so that we, who live in America, can do so freely. They are the ones who continue to stand watch while we gather with family and friends, have barbeques, and watch the Indy 500 on the television. There are many whose watches have resulted in the ultimate sacrifice for us and those are the ones that we remember on this day, Memorial Day.

Having experienced the pain of loss of one so young – a friend of our family, whose watch ended during a training exercise, my mind goes to those families who are reminded each year of the searing pain felt on that day.

While joy and laughter fill our homes as we gather with family and friends, remember there are those whose homes have an empty place at the table, whose joy is hard to muster on this day. I think of those who have lived for years after losing a loved one in a long-ago war; do they ever wonder what their family would be like today if that loved one had lived? Have their stories been passed down through their families?

Currently, there are approximately 400,000 soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetary alone. The first of these soldiers was Private William Christman, buried on May 13, 1864. The youngest person buried at Arlington was just eighteen years old. His name was Larry E. Smeldley. He joined the army to fight alongside his buddy in Vietnam; a depiction of true commitment to brotherhood!

I once asked my son, who wanted to enter the military after his twin brother was in, “Why do you want to do this?” His answer more than tugged at my heart. He said, “Because if anything ever happened to Ethan (his brother), I would know how to help him.” The bonds of “brotherhood” had already been established between my boys and now, as they both serve in the Marines, the bond is even stronger. The love they have for each other, their family, and their country will be a story we pass down for generations.

Today, enjoy the times of joy, laughter, and rest but let your mind linger on those who have truly made it possible for you to have such moments. Give thanks for the sacrifices these families have made for yours. Take some time today to learn about one such family; perhaps there is one in your own family history that you don’t know about. What a great way to spend this Memorial Day, looking into your own family’s story of honor, commitment, love, and sacrifice!

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13

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