It’s a cool, sunny afternoon. The lawn has just been neatly mowed by hard-working, reliable people who use power mowers. We used to mow lawns at previous properties using old-time reel mowers. I should say my wife used to do the lion’s share of that while I was at the hospital, working as a consulting psychiatrist. Now that I’m retired, I sometimes just wonder what I’m good for.
But it’s not hard to remember what Memorial Day is for. I was never a soldier. I never knew anyone who died in war. I only talked with military recruiters in a time so long ago, I barely remember being that young. I think they knew I was not ready to die for my country. They didn’t scorn or openly reject me. They treated me with respect.
Though I know what grief is because I am bereft, I cannot imagine what it’s like to grieve the death of any loved one who perished in war.
All I know is that when I was young and thought I wanted to be in the armed forces, there were recruiters who saw through me and knew I did not want to be a soldier.
They knew I did not want to die thousands of miles from my home in a bloody field. They knew I did not want to be buried forever in a foreign graveyard.
They knew I could not be one of them. Yet they did not treat me like an outsider. Now all I can do is be grateful. Now what I can do is honor them in silence.