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To Actively Remember: Honoring The Ones Memorial Day is For

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My parents came to visit us when we lived in Paris, France. We took a day-trip to Normandy. It was Memorial Day Weekend, 2005.
We’d been on this side of the Atlantic for about three months, but it felt good to be on official U.S. soil. The American National Cemetery at Omaha Beach is officially the United States of America.
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It is dedicated to the soldiers who gave everything they had in order to protect everything they knew.
They gave it all to defend the freedom of those back home. The liberty of those of us who were not yet born.
We walked around, peered over the edge and imagined the terror that had happened on the sand in front of us. The bunker in the hill made my heart beat hard, as I imagined the fighting, the death, the spilling blood, the loud screams.
My dad fought in Vietnam. His dad fought in the war that made the place where we stood U.S. property. He wasn’t there in the fighting. My grandfather was stationed far away from the D-Day horrors in the land of Burma, where he secured more of our freedom.
Still, all I could think about was the courage it took for each one of my patriarchs — my dad, my grandpa, every soldier approaching those Normandy beaches — to give what they gave. To shun their fear for the sake of my freedom. To face untold horrors on my behalf. So I might not have to.
We walked among the white crosses. They beautifully lined the entire plot of land. My then three-year-old skipped in her little Gymboree red white and blue dress as her ten-month-old sister watched and giggled.
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I felt bad about that. Because it’s such a solemn place. So serious. So much blood in the soil on which our feet now stood. Skipped. Ran.
Then I looked at my dad, who’d known the realities of war. I remembered that was why he did it. So we could stand there that day. So they could skip and run and dance. Freely.
He survived the war in that Asian land a true hero. Injured by shrapnel from an exploding bomb.
He is my hero. He is America’s hero.
My dad’s courage inspires me.
That I could stand there on U.S. soil won with lives whose memories marked the land, stand there with my hero whose bravery secured my footing — I will never forget that moment.
And today I will do more than not forget those who gave their lives so I could live as I do today. I will actively remember.
*I’m pretty sure my dad’s going to be reading this today. (Hi Dad!) He knew so many who gave their lives for our freedom. Would you be willing to leave a quick note in the comments honoring their memories and the memories of all who have?

14 Thoughts on “To Actively Remember: Honoring The Ones Memorial Day is For

  1. Hello Brianna’s dad. Thank you for serving. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    xo
    Pamela

  2. Brianna, We have a military family of which I’m extremely proud. I remember the years spent on various military bases here and abroad: all demanded a certain pride and respect. I’ve not been to Omaha Beach, but my daughter tells me the reality is overwhelming and not to be underestimated. To the men and women from every conflict, I am grateful. We must never forget the cost of freedom.

  3. Lmccy on May 27, 2013 at 2:17 pm said:

    Beautiful

  4. Brianna, what a beautiful tribute to the men and women who died to protect our freedom. Thank you, thank you. Thank you Brianna’s dad for risking your life and I’m so glad you came home safely and brought this precious daughter into the world.

    • Kathleen, every time I think about what my dad, and all of those men and women gave — and all that their families have given, I feel this deep sense of pride and gratefulness. And I cannot get over just how blessed we are because of those heroes. Truly.

  5. I’ve been thinking about my dad’s time in Italy during WWII ; about his injuries and living all of his life with shrapnel that they couldn’t get out. I’ve been thinking about Ted’s dad, serving in the Pacific, on the Hornet, out of Pearl Harbor. Thankful for their service. Thankful that they lived into their 80’s. Paul’s uncle Jesse who fought against the German’s and barely escaped with his life …and he is still living at the age of 92. It was only recently that he could talk about the atrocities against the Jews and the things he experienced in the war.

  6. Kelly Dieringer on May 27, 2013 at 3:17 pm said:

    Thank you for sharing Bria! Thank you to Bria’s dad for you service and bravery on behalf of the people of the great USA!! God bless!!

  7. Thank You Bria… I love you.
    I often wonder why I survived and so many didn’t, like Lt. Ritzlaff, Steve, Bob, Sgt. Thompson, Danny, and many more, but when I look at you Bria, Cassie, Kayla, Camden, Owen, Hanna and Grace and of course, my best friend and wife of 46 years. I know why God saved me. I too remember that day on Normandy beach, watching Grace and Hanna skip around in a free land I knew that all the lives lost protecting that FREEDOM and the sacrifices their families made — it was worth it. I am proud to have done my part. Dad

  8. Hannelore on May 27, 2013 at 5:31 pm said:

    Thank you Brianna for so beautifully remembering and honoring our service men and women.
    A very, special thank you to Bria’s dad for is bravery, courage and vision of freedom. .

  9. Linda on May 29, 2013 at 1:42 am said:

    Bria, A beautiful tribute to your Dad, my hubby and to your Grandpa and to all of the men and women who have served their country and are now serving Thank you for remembering, it meant a lot to Dad and to me.
    I love your quote about what courage is, and it is true, and that is what makes me so proud of Ray. I am most thankful that God protected him and brought him safely home, I know God’ s hand was on him that day. Thanks for your words, the love is felt!!

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