This weekend we visited the various cemeteries where family members are buried. It was a chance to put out flowers…to reminisce…and, in some cases, to mourn.

We also watched a couple of Memorial Day concerts on TV. One was our local “Celebration at the Station”–an annual event down at Union Station and the World War I memorial. That one is always a fun experience to watch. Somber at times…always including a recognition of those who are serving or who have served in the various branches of the Armed Forces…and ending with the 1812 Overture and fireworks.

We weren’t going to stay up to watch the repeat of the National Memorial Day Concert, but we got started watching it–and couldn’t turn it off. This one always has good music as well–but it’s also more somber, because every year I’ve watched it, there are stories of veterans and/or their families. The stories are told by actors–but the individuals whose stories are being shared are also there. They are stories that bring tears to my eyes–stories of love, of courage, of hope…

We had gone to most of the family graves on Sunday…but there was one to go to today–the Veterans’ Cemetery in Higginsville. We haven’t gone down there every year–the first couple of years it was too painful. But we went with our daughter this year–and our youngest grandson wanted to go as well.

He had had a close relationship with the cousin who is buried there–a young man who died on his 21st birthday. Jay had served in Iraq in the Marines. He had come back to the States but had not been home yet, although he was going to be home for Christmas. He was–but not how we had planned. His death was the result of some choices with tragic consequences, and while he was not actually killed in Iraq, he was every bit as much a victim of the war as those who were killed in action. His younger brother served in the Army–served in Afghanistan, and–thank God–has come back home in good shape. But he also mourns Jay.

As we visited Jay’s grave today–and looked over the many, many more since he was buried there–I thought about the stories I had heard last night. They are stories that can be repeated many times over. So many families have been impacted by the wars that have been fought over the years.

I may not always agree with the decisions that are made…think (and hope) that eventually we can find other ways of dealing with conflicts. But on this weekend–and this day–I choose to honor those who have made decisions to do their best to bring freedom.

Thank you…and blessings.

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