On Monday, as millions of Americans enjoy backyard barbecues and the hugs of relatives at family reunions, a smaller, quieter group will embrace too.
They do not celebrate Memorial Day, though. They live it.
The families of the fallen remember their loved ones every day, but on Memorial Day the remembrance intensifies. On that day they will think about what could have been – what should have been. They will regret the missed opportunities to say, “I love you.” They will feel the emptiness in the room that once was filled with a young, vigorous, and happy soul.
And they will cry.
I cannot fathom the sense of loss and despair each of our Gold Star families must endure, but I have had the honor of speaking with some of them, and they all share a common request.
That we remember.
On Memorial Day, take some time to reflect on the sacrifices thousands of Americans have made on our behalf, because that is what the day is all about. If we don’t, they begin to be forgotten. Their deaths eventually become mere statistics, rather than the faces of brothers and sisters in arms. And in your thoughts and prayers, don’t forget to include the families they left behind, because for them the sacrifice never ends.
And more than anything else, on this Memorial Day, honor the request of the Gold Star families.