Memorial Day, I've learned, is a grossly misunderstood day of remembrance. As veteran's, my husband and I receive countless messages thanking us for our service, but we always find ourselves confused. That's what Veteran's Day is for, not Memorial Day. For those that don't know, Memorial Day is meant to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. We celebrate their lives and remember with utmost clarity and sincerity, that freedom is not free, no, it cost their precious lives. Those brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, wives, and husbands kissed their loved ones goodbye, left home with hopes of returning, only to never grace their own doorway again. It's a sad truth, but one we must remember.
In our home, we take the time to remember out loud those we served alongside, those whom we left home with and came back home without. There are too many to count, but a few that we knew personally, and we ensure their memory lives on through us living our lives. After a few precious hours with fellow veterans and friends, watching our kids play and splash in the pool, we had a long drive home. As I found my way down the highway, racing the sunset, I was struck with how many years since my first battle buddy deployed and was KIA. PFC Avery was the first from our basic training unit to deploy from all of us at C-795, most of us who now have at least two deployments under our belt. He died only months into his time in theater, blown up by an IED. He was 18 years old. I was 18 years old. My heart sank as I realized in a brief instant, how much life I've lived since then. How much has happened, how much I've grown. That I've been able to see my parents grow old, create a family of my own, and experience life outside of the military. All the things that Avery would never get to do.
I held back the tears as my husband and I talked over the next 90 minutes. I watched the sun set, sinking below the trees, carried my sleeping children to their beds and tucked them in, then lay down next to my husband and kissed him goodnight. I think of these things often, how these little snippets of time are what add up to the biggest ones in our lives.
There are countless others I took the time to think of. Friends who are still suffering from the guilt of coming home, from surviving when their battle buddy next to them didn't. There are no words. And so, I choose to live for them. I will thank God for another sunrise and another sunset and remember that not all are so incredibly lucky.