It was a long time ago in a place far away.
There were no windows in the plane so we waited for the ramp to drop.
As it slowly opened the bright light made each of us to turn away for a minute.
As we looked up we were met with the biggest airbase any of us had ever seen.
Planes were parked everywhere and vehicles of every sort scurried among them.
As the ramp touched the asphalt we were assaulted with heat and humidity that one imagined only could exist in Hell.
Welcome to war.
Please wait over here.
Someone will be with you shortly.
We looked at each other and each of us were thinking the same thing.
The moment we stepped off the back of that plane trucks started pulling up to the ramp.
As we waited for someone – anyone – to tell us what to do or where to go we watched quietly.
Out of the trucks and into the plane moved dozens and dozens of caskets.
Each draped in an American flag.
Slid into the belly of that plane and strapped down for the final trip home.
It was well choreographed like it happened all the time.
We got off – they moved on.
Some with reverence and respect.
Too many with a business-like attitude of just another box.
With many more to come.
Metal boxes containing someone’s brother, son, husband, best friend.
Caskets of dreams unfulfilled, hearts broken and lives snuffed too early.
A chaplain says some words and the plane begins to move.
Another plane will take its place later to do the same thing.
It could have been Da Nang, South Vietnam, or Kandahar, Afghanistan or Balad, Iraq.
It’s all really the same.
People who believe, whether you do or not, that what they do is meaningful and important.
There are those who willingly put their lives on the line so you may enjoy the benefits of our nation.
If you find that statement ridiculous, then spend a moment reflecting on what our country, and your life, may look like if they did not exist.
It’s Memorial Day.
Don’t thank someone for their service.
It’s not their day.
Quietly thank those you gave their life for you.