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  • Writer's pictureGabriel Keye

Memorial Day Missive: a letter to everyone

Updated: Aug 19, 2021

Like for many others, Memorial Day has always been difficult for me. There are too many things to say, but those you really want to tell them to are not around to listen. This Memorial Day, I thought I’d say them anyway because that’s what blogs are for. Although I am saying this to everyone, I will direct it toward those I personally knew and know for maximum sincerity.

To those we’ve lost,

When this started, you were just a kid. You didn’t know where any of this was going, and you couldn’t have possibly begun to guess. You were scared near literally shitless. But you were also proud. I mean, why not. The uniform looked cool, people idolized you, and you were signed up for a good cause. Also, damn uniforms look cool. Despite all that, you were still just a kid. You may not have understood or believed in everything you were doing, but you did it regardless for those you cared about. And although they may not have been happy about you joining up, I know they believed in you, and your actions did not go unappreciated. It’s not fair what happened. It’s not fair that you never got the chance to earn a college diploma, get married, or panic while taking your children to their first days of school. It’s not fair that you’re dead, it’s not fair that the world is such that you had to lay down your life for it, and it’s not fair that everyone’s hearts now have holes in the shape of you. But you are in our hearts. We love you and we’re so proud of you. I hope that wherever you are, you know that.

To those who loved them,

I cannot stress how much my heart goes out to you. Life is agonizing when a large piece of you is missing, and I know that each and every day after such a loss can be bewildering. I want you to know that they loved you, too. They thought about you every day and talked about you regularly. Those conversations you had with them lit them up and gave them strength. Your love sustained them. You didn’t fail them; there was nothing you could have done. Though you may have been far away, you kept them strong until their last breath. I’m about to say something that may sound strange and even a little offensive, but they’re okay. They lived by what they believed in until the very end, and nothing is more important than that. And now that they’re gone, nothing can hurt them. They’re completely safe. I hope you can find peace in knowing they’ve found theirs. And don’t have regrets because I’m sure they’d tell you that you were the greatest blessing they could have ever asked for in life. Thank you for your sacrifice, and thank you for your service.

To everyone else,

This may be hard to understand. Many of us think of Memorial Day as a time for barbeques and shopping. And that it may be, but remember who gave us the safety and freedom to roast those burgers on that discount grill. Remember those children who left home never to return and faced horrors no person should ever experience. Remember those brave children whose dreams of living the lives we have will forever remain just that: dreams. Remember the gifts we have of being free and safe. Not everyone has that. Remember who gave us those gifts.

I hope you all have a meaningful and peaceful Memorial Day. Whether you’re spending it in mourning or with a football, I hope the commemoration and gratitude to our brave siblings, children, and friends resonates in your and everyone else’s hearts.

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