The ultimate sacrifice
Each year on Memorial Day, I attend American Legion Post 9ís morning service. The service has got to be one of the most patriotic events in our county, featuring a rifle salute, performances of patriotic songs and guest speakers who know what theyíre talking about.
Itís always eye-opening to see how many people in our community have been touched by casualties of war, especially since I donít exactly have a family history of service. I didnít grow up honoring family members lost to war, because I donít have any. Though Iíve always respected the sacrifices our service members have made, itís not so easy to relate to something I havenít experienced. That changed when I took this job almost four years ago, and I am grateful for it.
I still remember my first Memorial Day ceremony. It ended with a rifle salute and prayer. Taking a look around, I saw many people crying. It struck me that they were remembering someone they love and miss. I wanted to hug each and every one of them.
It especially hurt my heart to know so many people in our community mourn loved ones who never came home at all. We donít know the status of our brave POW/MIA citizens and, in many cases, never will. I canít imagine sending my husband off to war only to be told heís gone missing and no one knows what happened to him. You have to hope your loved one is OK, even if everything points to the opposite. I know I would.
Memorial Day is a somber occasion, and today I understand why. Iíve lost many loved ones over the years. It never gets easy to live without them. Thereís still a hint of anger below the surface. Sometimes I feel guilty for living when theyíre not. Sometimes I just want to scream. I want others to understand what Iím going through in the most visceral way possible.
So while I havenít lost anyone to war, I know the stages of grief all too well. It doesnít go away because you had a good day. Memories are bittersweet and, at the end of the day, all weíve got left of those who have passed. To the families of those lost to war, I hope your memories keep your loved ones alive. I hope you find peace, knowing the person you loved and lost gave the ultimate sacrifice to our country.
Of course, this column wouldnít be complete without thanking those who died while serving. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I appreciate you, and Iím sure most everyone else in Carroll County does, too. Your bravery will never be forgotten. You have left behind a legacy we should all aspire to achieve.
I wish we didnít have to go to war, but Iím grateful for everyone who has stepped up and given their lives to our country. Memorial Day is a reminder of that sacrifice. This week and every week, letís honor those who have lost their lives serving for us.
Letís keep their memories alive.
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Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. Her email address is Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com.