Johnny felt the bullet hit his stomach. He never heard the shot that knocked him to the ground. As he lay there breathing in heavy breaths, and looking at the sky above, he knew that this was where his life would end. Johnny thought about his upbringing. A strapping lad of 18 years of age, Johnny was a farm boy who joined the fight to defeat the British and drive them from his family’s land. Johnny had spent his life working the land with his father. He joined the military in town when all the elders searched for recruits to fight the British.
Johnny was like so many other youths from his town. He heard of the heroism of others who left the family farms to join the war effort. He wanted to be one of the heroes that the town elders spoke so glowingly at the Sunday church services.
When Johnny faced his first action against the British, all the stories of glory disappeared. He was forced to shoot real live people, many who looked much like himself, and were as scared as Johnny was.
Where Johnny fell isn’t important. What is important is that Johnny fell to the cool, wet ground, with a pain in his stomach that told him his life was ending. Johnny knew he would never return to his Pa and Mother. He would never again work the fields, milk the cow or feed the chickens.
I made Johnny up. But in the Revolutionary War there were many just like him. And I could write stories about other soldiers, from other wars to fill out this post. But I won’t.
This Memorial Day we celebrate the lives of those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country. There have been too many wars, battlefields and countries where our best fell.
Let us also remember those who stayed behind. The Gold Star Mothers who suffered the agonizing task of burying their children. The fathers who regret the discussion they had with their sons before they joined the military. The spouses and children left behind to grow and mature without the guiding hand of the fallen.
Let us also give thanks for the wonderful country we live in thanks to our military. With their protection, we have not been taken over by our enemies who want a different form of government.
The American experiment continues thanks to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for us. As we spend the day with all the celebration that comes with the summer blanket being thrown over the earth, with the flowers breaking forth with their bright colors, with the trees awakening from their winter’s slumbering rest. This day we recognize the splendor that we have been given.
America remembers those who fell so we can enjoy these wonderful things. Those young soldiers sacrificed themselves so the American experiment can continue. They have been called upon to defend our culture all across the world, and they have. Let us also remember those who returned to us damaged from their effort. Let us all take the time to thank them for their service.
So today, let us fly the American flag. Let us remember those who fell, and those who suffered from the loss. America became what it is because of those who defend us. Let us all celebrate these special people.