Dead Soldiers’ Day

I forgot an appointment the other day — just completely forgot about it. The woman I was supposed to meet called when it was too late for me to even make an attempt to show. I apologized profusely but I felt horrible. It was nothing against her, I had just totally forgotten about our meeting.
In the scope of daily life, there are few things worse than standing somebody up. The forgotten person is forced to simply wait, and wait, and wait, feeling awkwardly alone and not knowing if the other person is late or not coming at all.
After my friend’s call I checked the calendar on my iPhone and — nothing. I’d never added the appointment to my calendar. That’s why I’d forgotten it. If it had been on my calendar I would have remembered it. I rarely forget to do the things I write on calendar.
I think that’s why, as a culture, we set aside days to commemorate important things. We know that if we put those things on the calendar, they will become more real to us and we won’t forget them. And a holiday — a day away from work and school — is an even more obvious reminder that the reason is important. But then something happens. The holiday becomes the reason and then the reason gets lost. Maybe, in the case of Memorial Day, it’s because the name is somewhat vague and flowery. Maybe if we called it “Dead Soldiers’ Day,” we be jarred into contemplation.
If you’d asked me a couple of years ago, during one of my husband’s deployments, what Memorial Day meant I’d have rattled off an impromptu speech a politician would have been proud to give. But now … now that my husband has been home for awhile, I have to search my brain a bit to answer that question. It’s just not as real to me anymore. There are names of lost friends I could list, one of whom died on Memorial Day 2005, but even with that connection I confess I spent much of this week thinking more about our family fun plans than about the reason for the four day weekend.
But it’s Dead Soldiers’ Day, and Dead Marines’, Dead Sailors’ and Dead Airmans’ Day. It’s on the calendar. It’s a day for us to pause, step away from our busy-ness, be still and think of them, the boys and girls who lost their lives so that we could go on with ours. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t grill hamburgers and go to the beach — we should, life goes on — but those boys and girls didn’t die for hamburgers. They died for freedom, for their buddies and for a firmer grasp on peace. And may God bless them, and their families, for that.