Summer break is right around the corner. I’m so excited I could squeal! Sleeping past 7a and long days in the sunshine are my idea of bliss. This week, the kids and I mixed up a batch of homemade sidewalk chalk. Find the easy tutorial over on Project Nursery!
I don’t write many posts on here about the fact that Handsome is in the military. It’s not that we aren’t super duper proud of that fact. We totally are. And it’s not that it doesn’t influence how we live or function on a daily basis. It totally does.
I suppose it’s because, although military service is his profession of choice, it’s not the end all and be all of who we are as a family. To some, the sacrifices and pace of his job might seem overwhelming, but to us this is just life. And its a good life indeed.
Most Americans know there are two days our country has set aside to honor and remember citizens who have served in our military. But many confuse the two; unaware of the very poignant difference between them.
Veterans Day is November 11th: this is the time to thank anyone and everyone who has or is currently serving in the armed forces. Go crazy posting vintage photos of family members in uniform, tweeting patriotic shout-outs, and texting your Great Uncle Bob your appreciation for his service in Vietnam.
The other day is always the last Monday in May – Memorial Day. Too many Americans view this holiday as only the traditional beginning of summer; a time to bust out the BBQs, speedboats, and strawberry lemonade. Consumer advertising does their part to make you think this weekend is about scoring the best deal on a new mattress or SUV.
But they’re wrong.
Memorial Day is not to remember everyone who has served, but rather it is one day dedicated solely to those who didn’t come home.
We have been fortunate. In the many years of living this life, building friendships with military families all over the country, we have been spared the loss of someone close. I have known loss at arms length though: the friend of a friend, a colleague of Handsome, and several in his larger group of comrades. I have received email notifications of tragedy and bowed my head in prayer for the shattered families. I have stood at military funerals and shed tears as men in crisp white uniforms play taps beside a flag draped coffin. My kids have played with the children of women widowed by war.
People in this community don’t readily forget what the good life actually costs.
The irony is that all the amazing things you’ll spend this weekend doing (camping, boating, eating, swimming, beach lounging, movie going, and such) are exactly what thousands of fellow Americans have died to protect. If they were here, it’s what they would be doing too. They wouldn’t want us to spend a sunny 3-day weekend mourning them.
But the next few days, I plan to begin my summer by remembering. Not just a Facebook status saying “Oh, thanks to everyone who paid the ultimate price protecting our freedom.” Those are just empty words.
Instead, I plan to memorize one name; one American who traded his/her future for mine. I will teach my children that they live in the greatest country on Earth, but only because others are willing to lay down their lives to keep it that way.
My challenge to you is the same. Do not thank the ones still living, but instead choose to remember just one fallen solider. Maybe find someone from your home state or that shared your birthday. Memorize their name, where they came from and when they died. Search the internet to find news articles about their life or dedication pages set up in their memory. Pray for the family they left behind. Keep them on your heart as you enjoy your holiday weekend.
Genuine remembrance is the greatest honor we can bestow on those who deserve it most.
* * *
Honor the Fallen is an excellent place to search for a service member to honor.
“I want you and Daddy to drive me to my college school when I go there ok?”
While reading a bedtime story…
“Can you pause the book please? I need to pee.”
“When was the war?”
“The one where America won.”
“Why do moms and dads touch their lips for a long time when they kiss, but brothers and sisters don’t?”
“Why do you have to cut the grass so much?
“Because otherwise it will grow into a jungle.”
“I want it to be a jungle.”
“But then panda bears can come live with us.”
“Oh, well in that case…”
“What is Jesus’s favorite color?”
“Do you think that church mails my tithe to Jesus? Do they know his address?”
After looking at pictures of the new princess Charlotte —
“I wanna be a princess. How do I do that?”
“You marry a prince.”
“Ok great. Where do I find one?”
Most families have special things they do together — camping, biking, cooking, game nights, movies, etc. Ever since Songbird was little, flying kites has been one of our family’s “things.”
A few times a month during the summer, we’ll find a wide open space and let the wind do the rest.
Naturally the Atlantic Coast Kite Festival down at the oceanfront this weekend was our idea of a good time. We packed our sand toys, kites, and a picnic lunch to meet up with friends for an afternoon under the clearest blue sky we’ve seen yet this year.
Songbird is our resident kite master. This bird kite was the only thing she asked Santa for last Christmas and he happily obliged.
Hey, look at me for one more picture. “No Mom, I have to watch my kite!”
The day was absolute perfection. Warm sun, strong steady breeze, and not a cloud in the sky. I typically judge an outing’s success by how many times the word “bored” is uttered. Not once in 3.5 hours… ah, the sweet sound of true entertainment.
Miss J was all about getting in on some flying action. Then she accidentally let go and got a front row lesson in aerodynamics. Fortunately, it didn’t tangle anyone else’s kite on it’s way several hundred yards down the beach.
Then there’s Bug. My ever-cautious watcher. He enjoys the kites, but does not like the tug of the line. After our runaway kite incident, he demanded we put all the kites away in their bags and was very upset for awhile when we refused. I wonder if he will always value safety over adventure as he gets older.
This was our first time on the beach since last fall, so he also had to be reminded of a few sand rules. Yikes!
Eyes to the sky and deep underground. Half the time we were there, these two hand dug pits as deep as they are tall. Go for it. If getting sand in every facial crevice you have allows me to sit unpestered in the sun sipping a soda, then dig till your heart’s content.
It seems our wild weather has finally turned warmer for good. Things are really looking up from here!