Families all across America will get together today to enjoy the first “official” day of summer.
Millions of hot dogs and hamburgers will be thrown on to grills, boats will hit the water, and every city and town across this great country will come alive as folks get out and have fun in every way imaginable.
But there will also be a very different routine shared by many as the day unfolds around the world.
While those of us back home enjoy a day off with family and friends, our brave men and women in uniform will still be hard at work in Afghanistan, Iraq, South Korea and many other dangerous places around the globe.
While we’re in our back yards trying to get our grills started and our pools cleaned in preparation for a busy day of fun and frivolity, they’ll be dodging bullets and roadside bombs while serving in places where death or dismemberment just might be waiting around the very next corner.
Such is daily life for those serving in harm’s way on our behalf.
For many, all will not be fun and games here at home either. Virtually every cemetery in the country will see a steady stream of visitors today as people stop by to pay their respects to the fallen heroes who gave their all in defense of our freedom.
Widows and widowers will kneel at the headstones of their spouses while their small children stand nearby wondering why mommy or daddy is crying.
Parents will kneel at the graves of their children and try to reconcile the conflicting feelings of devastating loss and immense pride they surely feel over the sacrifice of a child in defense of the ideals and way of life that we Americans hold dear.
For far too many, the festivities of this “day off” will be a grim reminder of the tremendous cost of freedom.
We Americans were born free thanks to the grace of God. We remain free thanks to the selfless sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and the first responders who protect us here at home.
Today’s picture by photographer Sam Craig is just a single snapshot of a scene that is repeated somewhere across America virtually every day as our heroes give their all in defense of our country and their communities.
As long as Americans choose to be free, there will be caskets returning to our soil covered by Ole Glory and laid in the ground as loved ones mourn the loss of yet another hero.
I hope everyone who reads this enjoys this Memorial Day to the fullest extent possible. After all, that’s how the amazing folks this day was set aside to honor would want it.
But I also hope we’ll also take a few moments to remember and honor the brave souls who sacrificed their own lives so that we might be able to enjoy ours in our own way – and in peace.