It’s May 30, sunny, and I decide to take a walk, happy that the sun is shining brightly, but still in the low 80s so I can breathe deeply and enjoy the mile.
Six yellow school buses, a blue tour bus, two police cars line Main Street, where I walk by the pond. I wonder. A sporting event? They don’t have a tour bus for that.
Then I see a parade, flags, a marching band, a float, and hear a male chorus belt out: From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli, we will fight our country’s battles, in the air, on land, and sea; first to fight for right and freedom, and to keep our honor clean; we are proud to claim the title, of United States Marines. I can’t hear all the words. These may not even be right. I used to know them by heart. Now, I can’t remember them.
It dawns on me, of course, that this is Memorial Day weekend, and these people have not, as I have, forgotten. Especially the Marines. They have not forgotten, I did. At least for today--the very time when we have a national day set aside to remember.
I don’t want to forget this day, and really, on any day, these soldiers, the price of our freedom. A deep prayer rises in my soul. I want to thank them. I want to tell them I won’t forget.
For two years I have been distributing a bookmark to remind people to pray for the military. I have only had one person, a woman who found me asking for any kind of prayer, repugnant, refuse to donate their dollar, take the bookmark, and promise to pray. Many have donated $10 and promised to hand out nine to family and friends. They seem almost eager to have this token reminder. They also don’t want to forget. Librarians, postal workers, mechanics, church people, hotel staff, bankers, construction workers--it doesn’t matter where they are. They care.
A group running in the Chicago Marathon for the troops asked for 50 bookmarks to hand out to the crowd. Some church women in Florida have asked for 100 to put into their care packages to their loved ones overseas, serving for our freedom.
So, maybe I think I'm trying to do my little something to remember, to remind. But, today I forgot--today of all days. Something in me realized I can never do enough to really pay back these men and women who represent the hundreds of thousands who have protected me, my family, my county, our freedoms. I cannot repay the thousands and thousands who have died, been wounded, physically and emotionally, and who are forever changed by war because they believe it matters.
The least I can do is pray, say thank you, and in my small way, gently remind those I meet to do the same.
I am glad I took my walk today. The sun was shining, the air was clean, the sky was blue, the clouds puffy and white. And, the Marines' chorus reminded me they will continue to protect me, and they, along with the Air Force, the Navy, the Army, the Coast Guard, the National Guard, and the Special Forces--and if I have left any out, they too, are there for us.
I say a prayer. I am still free to do that. Lord, protect them as they protect us. Keep them safe to return to their families. And, please Lord, tell them I say, “Thank you.”