I'll admit, I didn't think much about the significance of Memorial Day until relatively recently. I knew it to be a day off in remembrance of soldiers, but I never knew anyone who actually had been to war or sent their children to war. It was a day of barbeques, one of the first days off of the summer.
Three separate people brought the true nature of Memorial Day to my attention.
The first: Laura McD. A woman I know through this blog. She's sweet, supportive, a really lovely person. I hear from her through Facebook and keep up with her photography on her blog. Right now, the main page shows a picture of Laura, her husband and her son the day before her son started basic training. Through Laura, I've come to gain just a little understanding of what it's like to know that your child is away fighting. It takes tremendous faith.
The second: I met this guy in Bocas del Toro, Panama. He had been in Iraq but discharged early because of a tank explosion in which he lost a leg. He spent months in hospital recovering and eventually made his way to Bocas. It's unfortunate, because Bocas is a place many go to hide or escape. Clearly, this soldier's time in Iraq left other wounds and not once did I see this person sober. I hope he is able to find his way.
Then, third, I met another soldier through Couchsurfing. His name is Charles.This man, only 25 years old, is unbelievably well traveled. Albania, Lesotho, Hong Kong and has lived in tens of places as well. He calls Baghdad home now. Charles writes of his personal life philosophy of mutual respect and understanding, of general being decent and focusing on here, now, today.
I often picture the world as a huge map. Some people stay in one place. Others shuttle back and forth, go here to there, never stay still. Paths move together, intersect, you meet, then the paths lead away again. I somehow doubt I'll ever see that boy from Bocas again, but you never know. Charles and Laura, perhaps we will meet one day. I have come to believe that anything is possible and with enough patience, time has a way of bringing those together who want to be together.
One last thing. The Map of the Fallen, a map of those who have died in service with lines linking from where they served to where they were born and lived. It looks amazingly like the map in my head. There's great power in actually seeing the faces of those who have fought and died, and great pain in knowing that because of their duty, we will not cross paths again on this planet.