I somewhat dread writing about Memorial Day because I don't come from a military family and I don't have any close friends in the military. I like to write about what I know, and for me to preach about the sacrifice our veterans have made, especially those who have died, rings somewhat hollow to me, because I have never experienced that loss first hand. My father was too young to go to Korea (although I did have an uncle who fought in Korea), and too old to go to Vietnam. But I can't imagine what my life would have been like without him, if he had died in the service of our country. I've never been in the military (although I have fascination for naval history for some reason) and none of my close friends are. My kids are way too young for that to be an issue for me now, although I sometimes find myself reflecting on my usual hawkish views and wonder if I will find myself feeling differently someday if my kids are ever in the service.
But, just because I can't appreciate the service of our veterans on such a personal level, I strongly believe that anyone living in our country and enjoying the freedoms those veterans sacrificed their lives to protect, needs to appreciate that sacrifice. I think a strong military that can handle any challenge we need to around the globe is necessary, since we find ourselves in the position of being the only country, it seems, that is willing and able to act as the "world police." The fact is that given the world we live in, people who are willing to put on the uniform of our country and defend our freedoms and principles are going to die, sometimes. The world in many respects has gotten less safe, not more, since World War II, and America needs to be ready to respond to continue to protect its citizens and support our democratic (note the small "d") principles.
So, if you're like me, and the sacrifice of our veterans doesn't touch you on the ultimate personal level for losing a loved one in the service of our country, well then, you're just going to have to work a little harder to remind yourself on this Memorial Day weekend, as I do, what it's really all about. You'll be a better citizen, patriot and person for it.