It's Memorial Day. Today, as is every day in my small town, quiet, bucolic and very peaceful. Teenagers may be bored to tears with the uneventful course of events here, but they are delivered from evil, essentially shielded from war and death, shrieking missiles and insane dictators because teens at other times and other places made sure we were. They'll learn eventually. They'll learn that young men and women 17, 18, 19 years old and older - their own age - faced horror and vicious insanity while at war, lost their lives, or were torn to pieces and lived to tell the awful tales. The contrast is almost too much to fathom: Peace and entitlement versus bitter war and tremendous bravery.
Children are playing at the water's edge at Lovers Point while tiny wavelets wash sleepily at the sand. The families and tourists enjoying a leisurely stroll are not subject to any sense of fear or threat of death. None of them probably ever will, at least at the hands of foreign invaders. There are no land mines, no shelled houses used as gun bunkers, no coiled razor wire around our town. We are content, happy, safe and sound. No, there is laughter, gentle chatter and singing. Radios are playing pop music and the food stand is selling hot dogs and fries. The difficult choices of the day revolve around when to start the barbecue and whether to see a movie or stay at home and watch a DVD.
I have lots of opinions about political decisions to start or continue wars; that's another story. I am taking a moment to remember what various heroic or ordinary acts were performed by people I never had the chance to meet and will probably never hear of. I watched some of the episodes of "The Pacific" on HBO earlier this month. It was depressing, as all war is, but the fact is that thousands and thousands of very, very young men died in uniform under fire at the hands of sworn enemies is so hugely in contrast with what I and my friends and family freely do every day of our lives cannot be shaken from my mind.
Thank you a thousand times, unknown soldiers, whatever you were like in your lives. I have no illusions that war is going to end someday; that is the ultimate sadness. But, I am today remembering and I am appreciative of sacrifices and pain suffered for the sake of my and my family's peace. Thank you, brave people who died, so that I will never have to be tested in that most horrible way. I am grateful and humbled.
Causes Christine Bottaro Supports
The Nature Conservancy, California State Parks, The United Way