Happy Memorial Day! Conflict, Violence, Sacrifice, Fallen Heroes and My Own Thoughts on those Who Gave it All

I am standing waiting outside in the center of the town, it’s a clear day today a bit windy and cool this November morning, the 6th of November to be exact, I thought remembering the day important.  As I look down the street about quarter of a mile or so to see if there is anyone coming from the church, I am thinking of the young man I am waiting on, a young Marine who gave his life while protecting others.

While standing there, a gentleman came outside the bank and walked towards me with smile on his face and asked have you figured out what’s going on down there? I was instantly angry at the question. Does he not know it’s a young man who died, a Marine who gave his life? I said excuse me and he repeated the same question to which I snapped it’s a dead Marine! My wife and daughter instantly looked at me and I immediately felt guilty at my bold and tasteless comment directed toward the gentleman who I thought should know that the town he lives in has lost a young man in war. Then I thought of myself and how often I have been wrapped up in my own world and have lost track of all those who have given their all. I feel ashamed. The gentleman had walked away. I thought how in an in an instant I possibly made a man and most likely a good man feel bad or a bit foolish. I thought, this is how quickly we humans can resort to conflict, how quick we can take a possibility to make a friend and turn it on its head and make an enemy. Then we wonder why the world is as it is. Why did I respond as I did? I don’t know for sure but I cannot help but think somehow it relates to why the world is as it is and conflict and violence seems to be so prevalent. I will have to ponder the question more later when there is time.

I watched as the young fallen hero drove by in a funeral procession of motor cycles and police cars and private vehicles with others in uniform who came to pay their respects. Men and woman lined the streets as well,  young children who held a banner saluting him has he passed by. I had to choke back tears as I stood there with my wife and daughter and thought of my own son an Army Basic Training graduate and in the Army delayed entry program who was up the street outside the High School holding a flag in honor of this fallen hero. I could not stand to think any deeper on the possibilities of what he may have to see. How selfish I thought of me, to think this way as a selfless young man, a hero who gave all, his life,  just passed by me. 

I am a cop, and former Marine I got to thinking about conflict and violence and how as a cop we deal with the small scale violence and how complex that can be and how much turmoil and pain conflict and violence can cause in the world. My mind shifted quickly and I again thought of the young Marine who died overseas, the young man who paid the ultimate sacrifice trying to snuff out violence in this complex world.

His family passed by and I thought of them and what they must be going through raising a son, the brother they played with , the grandson they always wanted. Now gone to a better place which quite frankly, despite my beliefs just plain does not feel like a better place not to me anyway at least in this moment. I can only imagine the pain this fallen hero’s family feels.

Then I thought of him a young man I had never met, never laid eyes on  and all the others who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the effort to end violence. I thought of how proud this young hero must have felt serving his country in an honorable way and I remember the feeling myself.  I had seen conflict and violence although never quite to level these young men and women are seeing it overseas today. What makes them do what they do I asked myself?  Is it meaningful? Is it worth it? Is it necessary? I ask these question myself and I hear these questions asked often by those who do not understand the nature of conflict, I guess no one can completely understand it. But who is to stop it, who is to risk it all in an effort for a better world, a more peaceful world? The answers lies in men and women just like this fallen Marine.  A selfless person willing to risk it all in an effort to bring about peace.

The next time you or I think about violence and conflict and its worst form, war, let us consider they type of person who serves in an effort to stop it, because the truth of it is they hate violence so much and love their fellow man so much they are willing to sacrifice it all in their efforts to make the world a better place. I do not possess the words nor the wisdom to explain exactly the message I am trying to convey here but self sacrifice, honor, integrity and duty and strength of character still mean something and that something lives on in the memory of those who have fallen in an effort to make the rest of us rise above violence as a means of dealing with conflict.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and to those who have loved ones serving this Country. Thank you for the sacrifices you all have made and continue to make.

Fred