I feel like I should put some words out there for this holiday observance. So I'll say this - Memorial Day is difficult for me - but not in the way one would expect. It is not a difficult observance because of those I have LOST, rather, it is difficult because of those whom I HAVE and love.
Like many folks in the shooting community, I am fortunate to have numerous friends, family, and acquaintances who have served in the armed forces. I have been doubly fortunate in that I personally have not lost any friends or family to the service of their country, until you get all the way back to the Civil War.
Sadly, many of those friends and family cannot say the same. "I" personally have not served, and even if I had, given my age and gender, it likely would have been during peacetime. Therefore, I cannot know at all know what those friends and family are feeling when it comes to a time like Memorial Day.
Memorial Day is a bit akin to attending a wake. One never knows what to say or do at such an occasion, because everyone grieves differently. Some would rather you not say anything - they want be left alone to drink a silent toast to lost comrades - while others would rather the life of their loved one be celebrated by enjoying the freedoms that their sacrifice helped ensure. Sometimes no matter what one says or does, it causes offense.
It has become a recent trend to admonish the general public to not wish someone a "Happy" Memorial Day - because it is not a happy occasion. It has likewise become a trend to remind people to not thank living veterans for their service during this time - because it is a time for honoring the dead. While I try to understand and abide by that advice, it does become difficult to keep ALL of one's military friends and family happy. As I said before - everyone grieves differently - and on a day like today it can sometimes feel like one is walking on eggshells in order to not cause offense.
So, to my military dear ones, I will just say this - Please be patient with those of us who do not know your loss. We love you, and we want to understand, even if we can't.
(The marker of an unknown soldier fallen at Antietam Battlefield.
Photo taken at Antietam National Cemetery, Memorial Day 2013)