Happy Memorial Day, Bro

05/31/2010

Our smiles were broader upon his safe return.

Is it appropriate to say “Happy” Memorial Day?

There are happy occurrences today. Local weather permitting, grills will be aflame and pools will be asplash. In fact, in Naperville, the kids have been out of school since last Thursday. So here, already vacationing kids have breathlessly waited for the pools to open on Memorial Day weekend unlike the patiently warming but vacant June pools of my Virginia childhood.

Yes, in Illinois, we start school in August, but somehow that seems less onerous than spending three weeks of June in sticky torpid classrooms.

The pool. Going to the pool. Summer days spent lazily navigating the grassy paths and hot tar streets between home and your best friend’s house and the neighborhood pool.

We like the things
That summer brings.

It brings the sun.

It brings the heat.

It brings the things

we like to eat.

This small piece of American perfection still exists. I am a witness and I am profoundly grateful.

Today, I thank my brother-in-law, Alan, for his contribution to the continuation of our cherished traditions.

Alan is in the National Guard. Enlisting in the National Guard once meant that you could reasonably expect to be sent to the Mississippi River to aid flood victims; or to the Plains to distribute hay for blizzard-stranded cattle; or to the inner cities of LA or New York to restore calm amidst chaos.

But recent events have resulted in Alan’s deployment overseas to war zones in Bosnia and Iraq.

On a beautiful summer’s day, our family, including siblings, cousins and nephews, drove Alan to Baltimore Washington Airport where he took a military transport to Iraq. His footlocker included his weapon—not gun, as he will emphatically correct you—and pictures of his new baby grandson, Adam. Alan was a grandfather when he was deployed. I am in awe of his voluntary sacrifice.

As you may know, I volunteer with an organization that helps local homeless families, Families Helping Families. One of our recent program families was a mom and dad and their 3 small daughters. Mom and dad had both been in the Army. Their troubles began when they left the support the Army provides and were unable to cope with their growing family and the unresolved traumas of military service.

Thanks to their incredible determination and the dedicated service of their mentors and case workers, their story has a blessedly happy ending. They completed educations, received counseling, reduced debt and bought a home. It’s a happy ending every struggling family deserves but too few achieve.

It would be wonderful– happy even– if everyone who has the means would make a contribution to a military family on this Memorial Day. (By using charitynavigator.org, you can confidently donate to an organization which will use your donation for the benefit of the families and not to enrich their directors.) These are the most deserving families and too many are slipping into despair and homelessness. How can our nation allow this happen?

Today, my family will enjoy spareribs on the barbecue, if the weather holds. At only 10:46 AM, thunder is already rumbling. But I am fortunate to have married a hardy mid-westerner. My Paul will gamely man the grill wielding both his oversized tongs and umbrella. Ribs will be charred to perfection.

I promise to take a moment to appreciate my great good fortune and my sweet brother-in-law, who is where he should be today, at home, with his two grandsons.

Thanks, Alan. Happy Memorial Day, bro.


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One Response to “Happy Memorial Day, Bro”

  1. writerchick Says:

    What a nice Memorial Day post. Thanks to your brother-in-law Alan for his service. Prayers to all.
    Writer Chick


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