(Wounded Marines during the battle for Hue, Vietnam 1968...a terrible place to be as those of us who were there know only too well.)
What You Shouldn't Ever Forget
This Memorial Day weekend many of you are heading for your claims or your favorite gold mining or treasure hunting spots. With a bit of hard work and a little luck you'll probably come home with a tidy little poke of placer gold or a long-forgotten cache of silver coins.
What you shouldn't ever forget, however, is the pain and sacrifice that brought you this long holiday weekend. Over the years and even now, men and women of all ages and from all branches of the military services have and continue to place themselves in harm's way for you and yours...and, truth be told, for a nation that has treated them with utter disdain on more than one occasion.
Rightly or wrongly, it's my belief that the old-time gold prospectors, miners, and treasure hunters had a much better understanding of the true meaning of sacrifice in the broadest sense. They traversed large expanses of potentially hostile territory in their searches for gold and treasure troves, often enduring hardships and misery that would make most people these days fold up like cheap suits.
This is not true, however, of our nation's veterans, especially those who've served in surface, air, or ground combat operations. Their hearts and minds and souls will forever be altered by their experiences and many have suffered debilitating injuries that have left them broken in body but not in spirit.
Their Sense of Personal Sacrifice...
These dedicated men and women know only too well what it means to be lonely, sick, cold, exhausted, hungry, homesick, and yes...afraid. I can tell you this as well...their sense of personal sacrifice has little to do with broader political aims or "Mom and apple pie" flag waving.
(Even now young men and women are out there putting it all on the line for others.)
Why? Because they know in their heart of hearts that the politicians who sent them to war have little care or concern for them in the long run, despite their hollow words to the contrary. They also understand (with no little measure of cynicism) that the sons and daughters of the wealthy, the privileged, or the politicos who send them to fight and die rarely serve or sacrifice as they themselves must do.
Think on This
So it goes from generation to generation, war to war, battle to battle, firefight to firefight. Sadly, nothing much has changed in this regard.
One thing I'd like to ask you to do this Memorial Weekend is to ask yourselves what is truly golden and what constitutes real treasure. What is the true meaning of sacrifice? What does it really mean to put it all on the line for others?
Enjoy Yourselves, But...
This weekend, think on these things a bit as you wield your gold pans or metal detectors. Enjoy yourselves, but please remember all who've served and sacrificed and are still out there carrying the fight forward.
Remember that gold and treasure are transitory. Sacrifice is not.
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2012
Questions? E-mail me at email@example.com