Until the 1960’s, it was called Decoration Day. Perhaps the Hippy-Dippy 60’s interpreted “decoration” differently and that term no longer carried the meaning of honoring our fallen soldiers. Regardless, it is a day to remember that there are those who do extraordinary things for causes that are often seen from the general public as “someplace else,” or noteworthy, yet far and remote from one’s average, daily life.
We all need to turn off the TV, stop texting, or shooting electronic birds at pigs and take a moment to think about those who have and are willing to sacrifice, often with their lives, to support and promote what we all take for granted – the ability to vote freely, drive cars on extensively maintained road systems, live where we want (generally) and say whatever we want (with some qualified restrictions). We need to stop, take a deep breath and remember that we are not here just by our own doing, but by the strength and bravery of many before us.
I have the highest respect for those in the military and their sacrifice, sometimes the ultimate one, but I would like to point out that there are others that deserve a memorial nod as well. They are the common Joe or Jane, that anonymous person, who has appeared in the more dire circumstances to lend a hand, dig through rubble, or risk their own life to save others.
The first that comes to mind is Rick Rescorla. He was the Head of Security at Morgan Stanley who for months had prepared, then safely evacuated nearly 4,000 people from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. He perished after he went back into the building to try to save others. In 1985, an 8.1 Magnitude earthquake violently shook Mexico City, killing over 10,000 people (with some estimates closer to 40,000). Common people, mostly untrained and with no gear or tools, spontaneously formed teams and started sorting through the rubble. Close to four thousand people were saved, but over 130 rescuers lost their lives in that effort. In 1998, a man swept away in a terribly muddy wall in a Laguna Canyon mudslide, plucked a 9-month infant from the muck and handed her to a rescuer before digging out himself.
There are those who give so much and I would just like to take a moment to say thank you and another moment just to say nothing. I just want to pause and take a moment to breathe deeply and feel the wonder of life and feel very grateful that on this planet there are many with much to give. I’m glad there is Memorial Day. We need to remember.