Memorial Day 2010 has come and gone. All across the nation, we found ways to observe this somber day with a mixture of tears, loss, and pride. Watching the Vice President place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and listening to TAPS being played while officers and soldiers stood at attention, made me cry.
While the day is celebrated as a holiday weekend, and families typically take to the parks, beaches and other recreational areas to spend time together, the reason for the hiatus from work must certainly have taken up mental space in most minds at some point during that day. In some towns, Boy and Girl Scouts placed small American Flags on the graves of those killed in action. At cemeteries and memorial parks everywhere, spouses, parents, siblings and friends gathered at the gravesites of their beloved, reminded yet again of their irreconcilable loss, mixed with a gut-wrenching sense of pride and patriotism.
I am among the lucky ones. So far, thank God and the fickle finger of fate, I have been spared the personal grief (in my immediate family circle) that so many thousands of families grapple with on Memorial Day. But nevertheless, I spent the day thinking about those who have sacrificed their lives for us, about all those who continue to serve in the military - who shoulder the task of putting themselves in harm's way, both here and abroad. I also thought about our Allies, and the risks, injuries and deaths our supporters have endured as well.
What I am constantly aware of is that I am grateful. Whether I agree with the wars - past or present, is irrelevant. I wholeheartedly support our troops - and with all our ups and downs, I'm vigorously proud to be an American. One way I show my gratitude to our servicemen and women -- and nearly 20 percent of today's military is women -- is to support organizations that support them. Here are a few: www.operationhomefront.net, www.military.com/benefits, http://www.militaryspousehelp.com, www.helpourmilitaryfamilies.org, www.uso.org, www.operationaffirmative.com, www.anysoldier.com, www.ourmilitarykids.org.
Because our military is on call 24/7, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, just thinking about them for one day is not enough. You can bet the families who have lost a loved one think about them every single day. How can the rest of us do less?
Follow Cheryl Saban Ph.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/csaban