I don’t love The Beautiful Heth any more on Valentine’s Day, don’t parent any harder on Fathers Day, and I don’t appreciate the sacrifices of those who have died in service to our country any more on Memorial Day. Even so, it’s good to have a reminder.
So this weekend, and today in particular, we are reminded, and we are humbled, and we are reverent, and we are solemn.
And while we are all those things, I believe we are right to be happy, too. I think this because of words e-mailed to me by Mark Decoteau less than a month after his son, Army SPC Marc Decoteau, was killed while serving in Afghanistan. Mark and his wife Nancy Decoteau had spent part of that February day supporting Hoops For Heroes during a four-hour shooting session, and his note said this:
Our son served bravely and honorably, however, he isn’t unique among the men and women of our military. Many others in uniform right now would exchange places with him without hesitation. Not because they want to die, but if they could protect their fellow soldiers or defend our country even at the cost of their life they would do so. Thank you for making Marc a part of your tribute — but let him be a representative for his fellow brothers and sisters in arms.
What those words said to me then, and say to me now, is that those brothers and sisters in arms — whom we honor today, this weekend, and in a perfect world all days — willingly protect us and take that ultimate risk, but they do it for a reason. It is in our respect for our consequent freedoms, and ultimately our daily pursuit of happiness as a result of those freedoms, that we allow them to believe it is worth the risk.
We spend the weekend seeing the new “Shrek” in 3-D, cooking out and swimming with the family, listening to “Hey Soul Sister” on the couch with the kids.
We do it happily. And we do it gratefully.
With 1,500 foul shots this morning, we’re now at 286,007 down, 713,993 to go to 1 million made foul shots.
Happy Memorial Day, everyone.
– Eula Gladys Lincoln
In distant field of sunny France
Where strangers come and go,
Amid the farms of Flanders, where
The fragrant breezes blow,
Our soldier-dead in quiet sleep
‘Neath crosses row on row.
Here shrapnel shells once shrieked and burst
And took their toll of death;
The very wind, itself a foe,
Bore poison on its breath.
Above their graves the birds now sing
As round that home of yore,
When, carefree boys, they romped and played;
Those childhood days soon o’er,
The boys to brave and strong men grown,
They romped and played no more.
They put aside their childish toys,
A man’s work each must do,
And when their country called for them,
To her they answered true.
“We must protect our native land:
She shall not suffer wrong
For she has reared and nurtured us,
We’re men and we are strong.
We’ll bid good-bye to those we love;
It will not be for long.”
With aching hearts and tear-dimmed eyes
We watched them go away.
Some have returned but many sleep
In foreign lands today.
Where English roses bloom and fade,
In France where lilies grow,
Among the fields of Flanders, where
The scarlet poppies blow,
Our soldier-dead are not forgot
Though strangers come and go.