Memorial Day was originally meant to be a day of reflection for those lost in the Civil War and has in recent decades become a day of remembrance of those who died serving in wars since. I've had several relatives who have served in wartime, but were able to make it home - my grandfather, who served in World War I; an uncle who served in World War II, including the Battle of the Bulge; uncles who served in the Korean War and a cousin who served in Vietnam. My mother has talked of a couple cousins of hers that went off to war and didn't return and who I was never able to meet.
Other relatives served during peacetime, including my father, my father-in-law, my brother and a couple cousins. I have friends who have served in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan in the current war. My childhood next door neighbor was a World War II veteran. My current next door neighbor is a Vietnam Veteran. I've got many people in my family and others in my circles of friends that I am so proud to know for sacrificing years of their lives so that people like me are able to enjoy the way of life we have.
I now have a couple more relatives to add to that list. As Memorial Day weekend was spend at backyard barbecues for many of us, I was no different. On Saturday I was dodging the raindrops to grab a burger off the grill and chatting with others at a party. It wasn't just a random long-weekend celebration, though, it was a farewell gathering for my nephews, two brothers who will both be leaving this week to begin their military service. One is going into the Army National Guard, the other to officer candidate school for the Marines. I've known these two their whole lives. I babysat them, changed their diapers, clapped as they blew out birthday candles, bought them noisy toys at Christmas and have watched them grow into young men who feel compelled to volunteer to serve their country.
Best wishes to Jeff and James Dubish! As an Aunt, I'm so very proud! And as an American, I thank you!