I used to view Memorial Day as just another holiday. The BBQ's, the parties; another day to have fun with family and friends. I've always felt blessed to live in the United States, but I would have never considered myself the overly patriotic type. That all changed whenever I lost my dad to esophageal cancer (caused by exposure to agent orange in the Vietnam War) back in 2012. Sadly, it took me losing him to become more aware of the sacrifices that were made for my freedom in this country.
It's hard to believe that June 13th will mark 3 years that he's been gone. The time has helped heal the emotional wounds of his passing, but it will never fully take away the emptiness that remains in our lives. Even though he didn't lose his life on the front lines, his time overseas ultimately lead to the disease that killed him. I wish we could have visited his grave over the weekend. I would've loved to participate in the Memorial Day ceremony that took place at Florida National Cemetery.
Freedom isn't free. It never has been, it never will be. Blood shed, lives relinquished, families left shattered in the wake of wars past and present. This is reality; a sad truth. Those are the things that should never be taken lightly; the things that we should not fail to remember. To the countless individuals who laid down their lives so that I could freely live mine, thank you.
I'd also like to take this time to give my gratitude to the soldiers who have been severely injured while in the line of duty. There are so many men and women who are fortunate enough to make it out alive, but still need lots of help once returning home. My husband and I decided to start supporting a nonprofit organization the year before last that helps veterans and aids in their recovery when they come back from war. It feels good to know we're giving back.