Gaining Perspective on Memorial Day, America, and Friends Who Died Young

Memorial Day download (1)I’ve been very lax on posting to my blog in the last couple of months. I’ve been traveling, Florida, Arizona, Georgia, to see relatives. I’ve been busy with volunteer activities, family things, life in general. No particularly good excuses, just haven’t posted.

But I’ve been following a discussion on a Facebook page the past few days, about young men, boys really, with whom I went to high school who died early in Vietnam.

It’s always been hard for me to understand the war in Vietnam even though I grew up and went to high school and college during that time. I guess I was just sort of clueless, but it wasn’t until the shootings at Kent State, just shortly before I graduated college, that it really hit home. People were dying! Those kids could have been me! I could have been shot just for doing a “college kid” type of thing.

But there were several guys I knew, Jay Sacks and Johnny Luebke in my high school class, and a couple who were older, who died over there. That put dying young, loss, family grief all into perspective for me, a sheltered, fortunate, kid. I’m not sure if I have still come to terms with their early deaths. They all deserved to have long, happy lives. One left behind a child and a young wife, but the others never even got the chance for that.

The ones who came home and were greeted with riots, anti-war protests, and worse, certainly didn’t deserve what they got either. But at least they came home. I’m grateful that the young men fighting in our recent conflicts at least have come home to the thanks and gratitude of their country.

So on this Memorial Day, spend some time giving thanks for the many blessings we all have, for the great liberties we enjoy and the beauty of this country we call home. Despite our flaws, there’s no better place on earth. The second verse of the hymn I sang in church this morning brought it all home for me.

America! America! God mend thine every flaw, Confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.

Despite our shortcomings, we can persevere and become ever better, ever more accepting and ever more loving.

And especially remember all the young soldiers who served and died to make it so.


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