My Grandfather was a World War II Veteran having served in the European and African Campaigns. He was an all American guy with a feverent love of baseball - the Minnesota Twins. He raised a family of five children and carried many memories throughout his lifetime. Although he returned from "over there" relatively unscathed physically, except an injury to his leg, the memories of days so dark and terrifying lived inside of him all his days.
Each year, as Memorial Day approached, he seemed to become more quiet and withdrawn as he remembered each buddy, each soul, each friend that was left behind. The boys who did not come home to raise a family and achieve the American dream. He never spoke of those days; willingly. Not to the family anyway. Perhaps during quiet evenings alone with Grandma he did. We will never know for sure. He was honorably discharged as a Corporal of the United States Army at the end of WWII.
My two Great-Aunts also served during WWII in the WACs - Women's Army Corps. My Uncle served in the U.S. Army as well with at least one tour in Korea. Each year my Grandfather, Uncle and my two Great-Aunts would march down mainstreet carrying the flags of freedom in the annual Memorial Day parade. The Memorial Day activities were a somber reminder of what freedom really costs.
Today, we, as American citizens, have sons and daughters serving in combat zones. I have a niece, of whom I am very proud, serving in the United States Air Force. She is currently states side for which I am very grateful. My daughters have a cousin who just recently returned from Afghanistan - again for which we are very grateful and proud.
For my home State of North Dakota: North Dakota has the most serving military personnel per capita than any other State.
When you see the flag of freedom flying by this weekend take a moment to show respect for the men and women who are not present at the backyard barbeques, weekend at the lake or celebrating the graduation of a family member. Their Memorial Day weekend is spent in the dirt and mud, and bathed in the blood of freedom.
Never forget: All gave some and some gave all.