28 May, 2007

Memorial Day

At the MilBlog Conference earlier this month, there was an extremely poignant moment at the close of events when John led us in paying our respects to those who have fallen in service to our country. Due to technical problems, he had to stand in the middle of the crowd (next to me), holding his laptop high so that we could hear Taps sounding through the suddenly-silent room.

And that was the first time all weekend I knew I didn't belong. I felt that wave of emotion begin with John and roll through the room, I was once again reminded of my own indebtedness, and I knew exactly where the thoughts of some of my friends in that room were going... but I also knew that most of those I stood with had a soul-deep understanding of this that I was lucky enough to only know from a distance. I don't carry the burden of a comrade or loved one lost to war; I have remained fundamentally unscarred by that kind of pain, personally unconnected to those who have gone ahead, outside a lineage of those who know freedom's cost at that wrenching level. I felt like a strangely untouched island in a sea of sacrifice, separate from those to whom I owe so much. Sympathy, empathy and appreciation are not the same as experience and memory...

So, I don't have words of great poignancy or power to share with you today. I only ask that you join me in acknowledging the staggering gift of lives laid down for us, and in vowing to live that our own lives may be worthy of such a gift.

For better words than mine...

John of Argghhh! - Who we are remembering
Blackfive - How to spend Memorial Day
Badger 6- Now it's personal
Neptunus Lex- The historical perspective
Robert Stokely - Father of a fallen soldier
Mudville Gazette - Mrs. G's Dawn Patrol
Jules Crittenden - Memorial Day on the Ground
Sgt. Hook - Detailed to a Military Funeral

Update: I humbly offer up the words I wrote when I visited Arlington two winters ago.