I’ve served parishioners who returned from war as heroes and were buried in Arlington National Cemetery as old men. Other friends returned with PTSD and they don’t talk about it.
The last member of my family to die in a war was my great-great grandfather Samuel Robert Edmiston who died on September 17, 1862 at Antietam – and he was fighting against the United States. So Memorial Day does not have intimate bearing on my soul, in terms of having a close cousin or friend or brother who lost his life fighting for our country.
But Memorial Day has broad impact on us – as long as we remember why people have died fighting wars. Just as MLK Day becomes merely a 3-day weekend if we forget the words and actions of Martin Luther King, Jr and other civil rights heroes, Memorial Day is about picnics and (finally) getting to wear white again, unless we remember that real people died for something greater than themselves. And they had families and friends whose lives were altered forever.
Remembering them with thanks today.