Grateful on This Day

In the Name of the Compassionate and Infinitely Merciful Precious Beloved

This year is a rarity for me: being off on Memorial Day. As a physician, I frequently (if not consistently) must work on Memorial Day. I have been blessed to have been able to take this year's holiday off. And I am grateful on this day: to be able to kick back and relax with my family.

Many, if not most, people will be having backyard barbecues and cookouts, picnics and family parties. Yet, we must never forget why we have this day off: to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf.

Ideally, there should be compulsory military service, like there is in many countries around the world: I mean, if we are to be true citizens, one of those duties is to collectively serve in the defense of our nation. Yet, we don't: we have a voluntary military, and thus, for all of us who elected not to serve in our nation's military, we owe a debt of tremendous gratitude for those who have.

Many of those fellow citizens joined the military out of a sense of duty; others followed in a family tradition; and many others joined out of necessity. Whatever the cause, they do all of us civilians a great service, and thus to them I am very grateful on this day.

Indeed, some members of our military have done some things that are wrong; they have committed crimes with the American flag - our flag, our symbol - on their shoulder. Yes, they should be tried and punished if convicted. But, that doesn't mean they are all evil like that. It doesn't mean that our country is like what they did. Still, we should be grateful for the military for, again, doing something on our behalf that, ideally, we all should be doing.

If we don't like where the military is deployed, that is our right. And thus, we should seek to change - through legal means - the policies that lead to their deployment. That means getting involved and changing those that make the policies through the electoral process. But, we should always be grateful for those who are sent abroad to fulfill their policies. And I am just that on this day.

Yes, it is nice to be off today, and I doubt I will have the same blessing next year. But, as I am enjoying my time off, one eye in my mind will be on those who have lost their lives - and those who continue to serve - in our nation's military. And on this day, I am very grateful.

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