I remember being three years old and standing mesmerized at the case in the Smithsonian Museum of American History where Dorothy’s red shoes from the movie The Wizard of Oz were displayed. You know the ones I’m talking about. Judy Garland wears them through the entire movie and then at the end clicks them together and repeats over and over, “There’s no place like home.”
I also remember walking up to the Lincoln Memorial and watching a pigeon perch itself upon Honest Abe’s knee. I remember thinking in my young mind, what a nice man he must be. I walked around for weeks afterwards and like a trained puppy would imitate the statue on command – or at least that’s what my mother tells me.
I was three years old and these little flashes of memory are from a family trip we took to Washington D.C. I have very few memories from that particular trip, but a handful of things remain in my mind. Things like the shoes and the statue were very impressive for me as a young little girl. But I also remember the gold room in the White House and being so tired that Mom and Dad had to carry me everywhere.
I was, however, too little then to fully appreciate the history, the political activity, and the patriotism that fills that city.
But I can recall standing at The Wall, the Vietnam Memorial, and seeing my reflection. I watched as my father found his friends’ names and then used a black crayon to rub them onto a sheet of white paper. With each name he found, more tears would fall. To see my father cry that day left a lasting impression on how I feel about our soldiers and their families and friends. At that moment, even at the age of three, his tears made me feel the sadness and loss of war. I didn’t understand the history of that war, or even really what a war was. But the fact remained that the heartbreaking loss of a fallen soldier is such a raw and basic emotion, that even me, as young as I was, understood the devastation.
Now as an adult I’ve found myself in the same place as the ones in the generations before me, praying for the safe return of my own friends sent overseas to war. I’ve taken interest in my own family’s history and discovered a great uncle that gave his life for our country during World War II. I have realized the true cost of freedom and the lives that are changed because of it.
On this Memorial Day, let us be thankful to all of the men and women who have come before and given their lives so that we may live in a country where we are free to live in a lifestyle of our choosing and say whatever we feel. Where we are free to believe in whatever we want and have the ability to pursue our dreams, our liberty and our happiness. We are blessed.
And as I write these words, there are millions of men and women who are serving now or who have served in our military that have also agreed to pay the ultimate price for our country if needed. I thank these individuals as well as their families for their willingness to sacrifice so much. Because I am sure that to them also, “There’s no place like home.”
The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war. ~ Douglas MacArthur