Memorial Day Is Not Happy
Many holidays are happy ones. Merry Christmas. Happy Mother’s Day.
Memorial Day is a somber reminder of those who paid the request for service with their lives. When LCpl Troy Nealey went to serve, he knew the risk. That doesn’t make it any easier to deal with never hearing from him again, and saying that sounds dismissive as if it’s strike three of a ball game. There is no do over. There is no restarting the game.
There are no more cattle shows for Troy, no herd of Shorthorns to look over. His dog Zoey joined him this year and I hope he’s taking care of Gael. So many things he never had a chance to do. For someone who liked to laugh and joke, and even on internet chatrooms when there was drama (on the internet? wow! 🙂 ) he kept it positive.
So in honoring him and thousands of others like him, it’s somber, not happy. It’s with a grateful heart undeserving of a life taken too soon.
We owe our veterans a level of payback that we can never achieve. If all were set up for life like celebrities, it wouldn’t be enough but in paying tribute it honors those who, like Troy, don’t have a chance to go to a bbq today. They may have a stone, a flag, a statue in tribute but that stills forever the life that could have been.
It’s for Ron Payne and Oliver Brown and thousands of others. Oliver was from Pennsylvania, and a group formed from a country music singer’s fans sponsored the Guard unit when they were called up. It made it personal.
Troy’s memorial showmanship for livestock is presented during the summer in his home area. So often in tributes it’s names on a page, or a random flag draped coffin but each of those had a family, had a life before they were a name etched on a stone.
As I think of those lives ended far too soon, I think of the many who served and did come home, thankfully, and continue to serve their communities and be with friends and family. Jamie Wittmeyer has been a friend for longer than I am going to admit to on here. Dirt bikes, horses, late night scary stories before traipsing through the timber (sounded like a good idea at the time) and breaking up I don’t know how many dog fights between his family’s Doberman Eric and my border collie Jerry when they got within sniffing distance of each other. Laughs past and present. Good people.
There’s people like Stephen Cochran, working on this Memorial Day with a mobile tribute on display today in California. Stephen Cochran wrote “When A Hero Falls”, posted below as a tribute to Ron Payne and the many others who are not forgotten. A different version has appeared on his CDs including a new version on the recent release (some other pretty awesome songs on there too – check it out).
There’s J.R.Martinez – some may remember him from All My Children or Dancing With the Stars – awesome person who has overcome more than most of us will ever face. We owe them all. They are not forever damaged…but gave a part of their life to something they believed in.
Today honors those who gave their lives. It honors those lives that make the fabric of American life and those families and friends who miss those lives ever day. We must not forget.
There are many whose voices are so far removed they are but names in a journal or document. May we never, especially on Memorial Day, forget those no longer here. Those who signed a document payable with their lives to try to help someone else. May it never just be about sales and grilling.
They deserve so much more than that.