I spent the afternoon talking to a Vietnam veteran. I have always known he served and have expressed my gratitude many times. Today was different. Today we talked about Memorial Day. He explained what it meant to him and I listened. He told me that Memorial Day was not only about those who had lost their lives but also those who lived on with scars seen and unseen. As I listened, he explained that people focus on those who have lost their live in battle and that is important, however many military veterans and enlisted live on with the memories of battle. Their families sacrifice too when someone enlists. Those in the military are sons, daughters, husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, friends….all leave behind and then, God willing, return to family.
He had never reunited with his unit until last year. He said he never wanted to, that the past was too painful. He said that those who were there have no need to explain to others and those who were not there will never understand. But meeting with his unit was in many ways a healing experience. He apologized that he would miss the next family BBQ as that was his reunion weekend and he was looking forward to it this year. He never thought that he would say that. I sat nodding and smiling as this 60 something man opened his heart and thought, I may never understand where he has been or the experience of war but I will be forever grateful to him and others like him. Memorial Day is about remembering to be grateful. Grateful for time. Grateful for freedom. Grateful for sacrifice. Forward is a pace.

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