Monday, May 30, 2016

Today Is About Listening

There is much more to today than showing our appreciation for the sacrifices made by those who served in the military. Today is about those who gave everything, the most that anyone can give, to this country and to us. Today is about showing our humble gratitude to those who will never be able to read or see our words. Today is about listening rather than speaking.

In between the countless posts and comments streaming across the screen of my laptop confusing Memorial Day with Veteran’s Day there have been a few instances when I paused and simply listened to what was said or stopped to read what was written. Those words were from the men and women who survived, many of whom attest to their survival coming at the cost of the life of another soldier. Others were recollections of the smiles and aspirations of soldiers who never returned home.

At the same time, I see the pictures and faces of families now absent a son, daughter, father, mother, brother, or sister. These are the instances that give me a moment of reflective pause as I think about those with whom I shared a barracks and I wonder how many of those soldiers never posed for another family photo after those sweltering days in Missouri. And I also think about who had to take my place once I departed.

I also think about the leaves in the family tree that never fully developed having been pruned early in life during a time of war. Whether it is my 7th great grandfather, Rufus Cone, having been captured by the British during the Battle of Long Island he subsequently died aboard a prison ship on August 27, 1776, or my 4th great grandfather, Jacob Teaford, who watched as his fellow militiamen were buried in mass graves in Norfolk, Virginia in the fall of 1814, or my 3rd great grandfather, Jacob Worth, being entombed in the USS Tecumseh during the Battle of Mobile Bay on August 5, 1864, or many of the cousins, close and distant, that have given all to defend this country. All of these family tragedies and sacrifices remain at the forefront of my mind on this day.

It is because of this, these accounts past and present, that we must always listen to what needs to be said and understand that many of the sacrifices that were made were so we could live the life that we do in a free country. At the same time, there is no telling what would have happened to us had someone not stepped in and paid that price. Past or present, today we must honor the memories of the true heroes of this country.