I am a knitter, yes, but I am also a reader, a writer, and the granddaughter of two veterans: Grandpa Cliff served in the Korean War and Grandpa George in World War 2. I’m thinking of them today. While in Korea, Cliff missed the birth of his second son, my Uncle Tom, and received the news that he was a girl (or not, oops) via telegram. In the grip of Alzheimer’s, George spent the last years of his life physically in a nursing home and mentally in Italy again. They were both kind and loving grandfathers and neither of them spoke much about their wartime experiences. It was through second-hand sources that I learned about Grandpa George’s heroics. It seems I come from humble stock. And lucky, too: not everyone’s grandfathers (husbands, wives, grandmothers, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, best friends) made it home.
Today I want to thank all of the people who put their lives at risk in defense of others and for ideals they felt worth protecting at great personal cost. And while you’re grilling today or tomorrow, stop for a moment and raise a glass to the men and women who sacrificed their lives to free us from a tyrannical crown, to free people from slavery, to stop a madman, to stop genocide. This isn’t about supporting the current administration, this isn’t about supporting past presidents. It’s not about whether you agree with the purpose behind a war or “conflict” or about things that can happen when you put people in terrible situations. Today is about life given freely (or conscripted) because there’s something to fight for, be it the larger picture or just the man or woman next to you. Thank you for carrying that weight.
“They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing–these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight.”
–The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien