Most of the time, when I am listening to the roll call of deceased veterans during a Memorial Day program, I don’t know the people involved.
Nevertheless, I can’t help wondering what they were like.
Many entered the military when they were young people, just out of school. No doubt they had the same kinds of dreams and aspirations all young people have. They may have been thinking about a career, starting a family, or seeing the world.
A lot of veterans did get to see the world, but maybe not the parts they would have liked.
Many found themselves in the kinds of inhospitable destinations that aren’t on anyone’s bucket list of places to visit.
They may have been scared, or angry, or frustrated, but when they were called, they went and they did their duty.
That’s a word we don’t seem to hear much these days duty.
A lot of people are quick to demand their rights, or tell the world what they want, but how many talk or even think about their duty?
We seem to be immersed in a sea of entitlement these days.
People are sure they have rights, but they don’t give much thought to why they have those rights, or who made this possible.
In many cases, it was veterans who made the sacrifices that allowed future generations to enjoy those rights.
It may not have been convenient or fun. They may not have had a clear understanding of why they had to go. They may not have wanted to go, but they did.
They sacrificed many things, including their lives in some cases, for the good of all of us.
When I listen to the reading of those roll calls, I try to stop and think about the people behind the names.
I suspect a lot of those men and women were very much like people I have known.
It was their sacrifices that made it possible for us to enjoy the freedoms some people take so lightly.
We owe our rich lifestyle not to a list of names typed on a roster or engraved on a memorial, but to the people behind those names.
When the time came, they did their duty, and, too often, they never made it home to reconnect with their families or friends.
We owe our veterans more than we can repay. At the very least, we owe them the respect to remember their sacrifices and do our part to conduct ourselves as responsible citizens so that those who gave their lives in support of their country did not do so in vain.