Few days offer the opportunity to do the right thing simply by remembering; Memorial Day is one such privileged occasion. The key to making the most of sanctified reminiscence is to move beyond the general to the particular. In that way, honoring is not all that different from interceding. We may pray for certain occurrences or against others while remaining comfortably aloof, tucked safely behind abstraction; that is not intercession. Petition becomes intercession when we willingly and intentionally accept another’s plight as our own and wrestle on their behalf until a desired future outcome becomes present reality. In a similar vein, Memorial Day achieves full significance when we remember certain individuals and offer thanks for them by name.
Two such men come to mind today; the first was well known to me, while the second conjures far fewer memories yet deserves deep appreciation despite holding a far less familiar place in my mind. Henry adopted me and loved me unconditionally. He demonstrated that same commitment by serving this country faithfully as a tank commander in the United States Army during the Korean War of the early 1950’s. I owe to him a debt larger than life; though separated by death for nearly thirty years, he occupies a unique place in my mind and heart I revisit every day. I share his last name and enduring legacy. The other individual is a man to whom I owe a different debt. Though I only learned about him a year ago and met but twice, he is the reason I have anything or anyone to remember at all. I do not bear his name but carry his DNA, and I hope I honor him in a way he will never know. He, too, served this country in the Korean War, as a sailor in the United States Navy aboard the USS Taluga.
Sacrifice is measured best by cost and honored most highly by remembering. On this Memorial Day, I thank you Henry and thank you Pete for standing tall in the face of fear, danger and duty. I am not worthy of your courage, but I will not fail to honor your memory. I salute you both with my heart.