Memorial Day. 2014
They didn't choose to be heroes. Freddy, Bobby, William, and all the others that heard and answered the call. They were just normal young men.... boys, really.... who just went about their day to day lives, dreaming their dreams of a future filled with love and marriage, perhaps a couple of kids and a house with a yard. They walked the streets of my hometown, as so many others like them did in their own hometowns across this country, filled with the bloom of youth, the promise of their futures which were still shining brightly. Whether they joined, as I did, or were drafted as others were, they still made the choice, without question, to answer it. They were swept up in the war machine and and did their best to play their parts. They paid the ultimate price, did Freddy, Bobby, William and others. They could have run and hid, as some did. They could have done other things, as so many of those who beat the drums of war today, did to avoid service at that time. They didn't, because they were taught, and believed, that freedom is never free. There is a price to be paid for all of the freedom that we, in these great United States, enjoy. No matter what their political leanings, if they had any at that tender age, they served for the idea of freedom. This is what made them great. This is what made them all heroes in my eyes, and in the hearts and minds of so many who knew them. They served with honor and they served with pride. Regardless of what you think of that war, they served their country well.
Our fathers and grandfathers also served. They brought down killing machines that were laying waste to all they regarded as lesser than they. Shooting, starving, killing indiscriminately, women, children, men. Old and young. Men and women from the Armed Forces of the US joined with our European Allies to turn the tide and stop the killings. They did the same in the Pacific theater as well, at the cost of so many lives.
Today, we are at war again. Whether you support the war, or not, you must support and honor those who, again, are serving and dying in the name of freedom. Regardless of politics, we must, as citizens of this great country, honor the memories of those who have served, especially those who paid the ultimate price.
in quiet moments, I can hear the voices of those whose memories I honor. If I close my eyes, I can also see their faces. The easy smiles, the ready laughter... their voices and images echo through the decades, back to me. I don't need Memorial day to think of them, because I think of them every day, but I will take the time on Monday to honor them all, to thank them all, for their service to this country and to what it is supposed to stand for. I hope all that read my rambling tribute will do the same.
Peace and Love to All.
John Zaffino, Kent Lakes NY
Memorial Weekend, 2014