People rise, the anthem begins, and an 80-some-year-old man lifts his hand into a gnarled salute. He and the other aged gentlemen standing at attention rely on muscle memory to hold their postures as erect as possible despite the weariness in their joints and limbs.
As the music swells, I hear my voice joining with shakier vibratos to tell of "the rockets red glare." And I blink back tears of gratitude. Generations of men and women (sons and daughters of Americans who loved them through childhood and into young adulthood) have refused to whither from the call to duty, even when their service took them to places where bombs were actually "bursting in air."
It is Memorial Day, and I remember.
Please know that I am that person – the one who quietly cries for what you lost, while feeling grateful for what I gained. You followed an honorable call to duty and service.
I also grieve - gratefully so - for those who answered a similar call but are no longer here. Your band of brothers, your sisters of state who fell in battle while you carried on.
I know there are stories that cannot be told about things that defy description. I know there are emotions you cannot share about things that defy human experience. I know there are - simply - no words.
I am deeply grateful for the sacrifices you made. You left home to serve. You endured hardship to learn how to serve. You ventured into harm so that I can live free from harm. Because of you, I, too, can serve.
Please know that my patriotism, which looks different than yours, is no less fierce. I'll defend you at home. I'll fight for your rights.
I'll never forget because I remember.
Vlog from courthouse memorial service held after the American Legion service held in the Civic Auditorium.