Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

I had someone ask me if Memorial Day weekend was hard for me because of what my husband does for a living.  When I shared this with Adam, he said, "Well, I'm not dead..."

But it got me to thinking...

Because, let's face it, I never in a million trajillion quadrillion years saw myself as a military wife. 

And would you believe that I was 22, and had graduated from college before I knew that Memorial Day was a holiday to honor the sacrifice of the fine men and women of the United States' military? 

And that's a shame.

In my family, we used to use Memorial Day to decorate the headstones of the people who had died in my family.  There was something spiritual about heading to three different cemetaries to clean up a year's worth of weeds, dirt, and bird poo.  To replace last year's wreath of plastic flowers with a new one of brightly colored plastic flowers.  To spray weed killer.  To wander around, looking at old grave markers, visiting the one that looks like a (real) tree.  To pray.

My grandpa passed away before I was born, and I was the only one of the grandkids who didn't get to know him.  So we always had the tradition, no matter what color flowers we bought, to buy a single purple flower to put with them.  Since I stand by the belief that purple has been my favorite color since birth, it was always very symbolic and special. 

And that's all well and good.  But it's not the point of Memorial Day.

I don't come from a military family.  My dad and my uncle both (thankfully) avoided the draft during the Vietnam War. I, like most of our country, have had the privilege to live a life mostly sanitized from the realities of war.

So here I am, married to a man who enlisted, at the age of 27.  During a freakin' war. 

Life is funny sometimes.

When I think about the things that Adam and I really truly value in our life and in our marriage, one of them is just doing the things that we think are right for us, despite how that may look on the outside.  Sometimes that means bucking convention and having pie at our wedding, instead of traditional wedding cake.  Sometimes that means adopting your first child, despite never trying to have a baby "the old fashioned way." 

And sometimes that means enlisting in the military because you have this innate desire to serve your country that you've had for your entire life; and, you know what, it's just time to do it.  Because you want to be able to tell your kids that you served in the war, that you didn't shrink away from what you feel is your duty.  Not because of the paycheck or the acknowledgement.  But for something bigger than that.  For something that you cannot even articulate to other people. 

I had the privilege of hearing Joyce Meyer speak back in April.  And she said something about how sometimes God's movement in our lives isn't really about us.  Sometimes it's about God using our life choices to impact someone else's life.  I think about the ways that Adam's enlisting has changed the reach of my professional work. 

Last week, I got invited to speak in Chicago at a training about military culture.  I couldn't stop laughing long enough to tell Adam about it.  I just kept saying, "Can you believe that they would ask ME?"  I think about the amazing things that I've been able to be a part of with the Wounded Warrior Project.  What a complete honor to even be a part of this inspiring organization.

So, on this Memorial Day, I want to say THANK YOU to my husband, a true Patriot. 

For being adamant about what you needed to do. 

For loving our country, for being willing to serve. 

You are my hero.

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