Many of you know that my father served as a military pilot. He entered the Marine Corps before I was born and left two years after I had my first child. Like other military kids, I moved from base to base enduring more goodbye's and more new introductions than most people will experience in the course of their lifetime.
But you probably don't know that my mother's father also served in the military. He fought in the Pacific long enough to collect stories for a lifetime. I have uncles who served, too, and my husband was in the military when we were first married.
In fact, members of my family have served in the military as far back as the Revolutionary War. On Memorial Day, as we remember the men and women who have given their lives in service to our country, I am thankful that most of the men in my family returned home. I'll never forget the first time I saw the Vietnam Wall in Washington DC. The names of my father's contemporaries are engraved on that stone. They were sons, brothers, husbands, friends. I was one-year old when my father left for Vietnam. I realized, as I stood there with tears streaming down my face, that had he not returned, everything--everything--would be different. This would not be my life.
So I pause every Memorial Day and think of the men and women who gave their lives; some of their names are on that wall, where my father's is not. I silently thank them for fighting for our freedom and our rights. I tear up as I think of the ones who once waited for their return; those whose lives were inconceivably altered the moment they heard the news.
Today, as I think of them, I honor both the service and the sacrifice. And I offer a heartfelt thank you to all who have served.