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Memorial Day

I've always known the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day--one to honor the ultimate sacrifice and one to honor the service. But it wasn't until we had actual names to honor on Memorial Day that the true meaning sank into my bones.

As a kid, we would visit the cemeteries for Memorial Day. Honor the people in our lives that weren't around anymore. Sometimes that meant service, but mostly it was a beautiful time to see the cemeteries with flags everywhere. I grew up in a military town.

Tim was slated to go to Iraq in March of 2003. And the first deaths came that month. San Diego deaths. Tim didn't deploy until later that year due to the actions of Turkey closing their border to our troops. That delay of his leaving, allowed us to get a Cooper. I'm particularly fond of Turkey.

So the first time Tim deployed was 2003. And by May of 2004, everything had changed. Memorial Day was different. Pat was gone. Sgt. Shaver had lost his life just weeks before, the first WA Army National Guard soldier to die in combat since the Korean war. I dragged my 2 and a half year old and 6 month old to the cemetery to honor him and the day. Tim went out on a mission in Baghdad.

And my sense that everything would be okay was shattered.

On any given day the news was not good. Days of communications blackouts because notifications were being delivered. For me the greatest fear was someone coming to my door in uniform, I couldn't even imagine what the day after that was like.

And then I could. We lost good men. And a part of us is still in that day after feeling. For me it is just sad but for Tim it is a constant consideration of if he could have done more or better to prevent them. We have lived with those ghosts for twenty years.

Those were our guys. His guys.

And then 2007. My little sister (okay, I know, she's not actually mine, but the closest thing to it) lost her husband days after having her third child.

Nothing is the same. Every time you hear about an explosion, a raid, a shooting, an air mishap you are transported back to that moment. And we give them one day a year.

So. It isn't Happy Memorial Day. It is Memorial Day. It isn't the start to summer. It is a holy day. It isn't a day to thank Tim for his service. It is a day to ask him who he's thinking about.

It isn't even really for your grandpa who served in WW2 and has since died. I mean, I'm sorry for your loss, but that's Veterans Day.

It isn't even technically for the ones we've lost since to cancer, injury, suicide, it is so complicated.

However, It is a day to talk about all those things, every day is a good day to talk about those things. But simply, it is a day to remember the ones we lost doing the good work to serve this country. The ones that stand up and say, I'll go. And don't come home.

Join me, join us in remembering. Add your names.

Pat Tillman

Jeffrey Shaver

Jeremiah Schmunk

Damien Ficek

Jason Bogar

William Weatherford

John LaBossiere

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