Memorial Day is not a happy day, at least for me. It is a somber reminder of those that sacrificed more than their time, their soul and their health (as all veterans do). Every Memorial Day is a moment to remember those lost in service. They are gone.
For me that means remembering Mike Adams. He was a younger Boy Scout than I was. Mike would go on to earn his Eagle Scout, was the Senior Patrol Leader for a time and after I lost touch he headed off to West Point. Mike was also my step-brother's best friend. Mike served quite early in the invasion of Iraq. He died in heart-breaking fashion. His unit was on their way home, driving towards Kuwait and extraction. A passing vehicle clipped a swivel mounted machine gun. It smashed into Mike. He didn't come home.
It means remember Travis Patriquin. In '98 he was my direct billet replacement as I outprocessed 5th Special Forces. Eventually he would be credited with organizing the Anbar Awakening as a Captain. We only barely met in a couple weeks while my focus was on becoming a civilian. Travis was focused on integrating into a unique unit that is as much physical challenge as mental. An IED took Travis on December 6th 2006.
It means remembering Drob. He was several ranks above me when I signed into the 341st BN (MI) in Washington. I'm certain he had a first name, and a full last name, and a rank. But to every single soldier he was Drob. I lost touch with most of the citizen-soldiers in the 341st. I outprocessed in August of 2001. They were quite busy from September 12th of that year. Drob was my team sergeant's best friend. I've never asked how we lost him. It's hard enough knowing that he's gone.
I'm certain I know more that are gone. Being in Group meant that many of my fellow soldiers were in the earliest wave into Afghanistan and later into Iraq. Those that are still with us have most certainly been involved in a half-dozen other Arab nations as well.
But those three stick with me.
Memorial Day is not happy. It is a somber reminder of not those that served, but those who gave absolutely everything for our nation. When America asked "How much would you give for us?" the answer was "Everything, and more if I can."
As a veteran I am quite fortunate. My sacrifices were simple. I have a rather minor injury and never saw combat. The day to thank me and those other veterans like me is November 11th.
On Memorial Day, as you grill some burgers and dogs, I ask you to bow your head for a moment and thank those who cannot hear your voice.