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Talking it over: Peace out of heartache

As I sat at Lakeside Cemetery on Monday morning, I admired the beauty all around me. Black and brown granite stones swarthed in flowers, flags and statuettes. Green grass, birds singing and a blue and cloudy sky above.

What a peaceful way to spend a portion of a day that honors those who gave us that peace. I listened to the words of the speakers honoring our veterans and realized what a gift they have given us.

As the names of our deceased veterans were read, I could visualize the faces of these heroes and recall memories made with many of them. For some of those veterans, I had heard the stories of their time in service through articles written about them and interviews I conducted. Others kept their experiences very much to themselves. I remember seeing some of them at other Memorial Day services held throughout the years.

However, I also realized that you didn’t see many of these people at services such as this. I also did not see them at other places commemorating them such as American Legion or VFW Clubs and their functions. For a lot of the soldiers, when the war was over for them, they choose to avoid things that might bring back the memories.

As the years passed, this changed. I remembered the ones I have interviewed through the years and how hard it was for them to talk about the war and nearly impossible for us to understand what it was like. Each one had their own unique experiences, some worse than others.

I looked around that beautifully decorated cemetery and silently thanked these people for their sacrifice. I wish we could celebrate their gift every day, not just on Memorial Day. In some ways we do. As we live, work, worship, talk and play freely, we are celebrating what they gave for us. Let us remember to do these things with respect, honor and recognition of the gifts that they are.