Monday, May 25, 2015

A Moment of Quiet Reflection

Memorial Day Memory

From 2008

For the third consecutive year, I had the honor to participate in The Time of Remembrance ceremony held on the National Mall. The ceremony honors the families of those who lost their lives in service to our country. Amid all the spectacle of uniforms and flags, Joint Chiefs and speeches, fly-overs and rousing martial music are the regular folks — the parents, the wives and husbands, the children — each carrying the heavy absence left behind by the loss of their loved one. In this third year of taking part, the depth to which it affected me was no less than the first. In fact, it was deeper.

Shortly before the opening ceremony as early arrivals were filing in, I was in the center isle of the audience, doing some last minute arranging of chairs. An upper middle-aged woman a few rows up tripped and fell flat. A few of us went over to help her. Already fragile with emotion, it became quickly evident that her tears were more from embarrassed than pain. Still, I crouched down next to her, along with others who helped her gather her bearings and regain her dignity as we checked for any indication of injury. Once we got her to her feet, she reached into her light jacket and pulled out a framed photograph of a young uniformed man, smiling broadly. "My son," she showed me with pride. She kissed it and cradled it, as though he were once again the infant she'd held in her arms. As she gazed at her son's image, for that instant her expression of a mother's love combined with agony of loss captured the essence of that day's ceremony.




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