Memorial Day. Until I moved here about a decade ago, this was always just a day off. But since I've been here, I've gotten to know a lot of guys who have either served, are serving, or will soon ship out to places known and unknown (or places they can't tell us about) to serve. Nowadays, Memorial Day is nearly a holy day for me. Not because I love war or some such nonsense, but because just the close proximity to some of these guys takes the abstraction out of their service.
It's almost always a humbling experience to know that the man (I actually only know military men) standing next to me has been to war and has, in all likelihood, seen things we have never and will never see. Sometimes horrible things, sometimes noble things. Things out there on the edge of human nature.
Standing next to guys like that take the abstract out of this day and war. It's real. People die. People kill.
For the most part, the soldiers I've known have been clear-eyed, honorable men. I don't idolize them or raise them to an impossible standard -- they're human beings afflicted with the same nature as the rest of us. But they've gone to war knowing full-well that their lives may end in some faraway place for a particular cause they may or may not agree with. Many of them serve a higher cause than the particular reason for their deployment. Either way, they put their lives on the line so most of us don't have to.
So, thank you. Thank you for doing what most of us have either never thought to do, or were too afraid to do. Thank you for keeping America safe so that the highest ideals to which we aspire can flourish. Thank you.