I don’t know what today holds for me – or any of us, for that matter.
But I know this: This day and every day of freedom we have enjoyed – and taken for granted – has been paid for by others. Our freedom has been paid for by men and women who left their lives behind, donned uniforms and set foot on foreign soil, never knowing if they’d ever see home again. Our freedom has been paid for…
In lost time.
In blood. Rivers of blood. Humanity has spilled enough blood to wash our society away.
But we have endured. We have survived. We have carried on, building lives that fulfill us and distract us from seeing the ghosts of those who have died so that future generations could continue living.
But they are they are there.
My grandfather was not a decorated soldier, but he fought. He was a boy when he joined the Polish resistance during the Second World War. He saw his friends executed, their bodies burned in the street. He fled Poland and eventually arrived in Germany as the war was reaching its bloody climax.
Grandpa may have inspired the phrase, “Out of the frying pan and into the fire.”
My grandparents met in Germany. My grandfather was a security officer for the United nations at a temporary holding camp for prisoners of war.
My grandmother, a nurse at a Nazi war hospital, was not.
Theirs was an unconventional romance to say the least. But I’ve always loved the fact their love sprouted from the horror of war. Never mind the image of a lone flower on a battlefield. Lovers thrown together by battle, that to me, is a testament to the resilience of humanity. My grandfather survived the war but he never really returned from the battlefield. He drank to forget. He tried to wash the rivers of blood away with alcohol. He tried to forget.
But I never will.
I have little more to offer.
Enjoy the day, my friends. Savor your freedom, today, and every day that follows.
For your freedom has been bought and paid for at an unbelievable cost. A bloody cost. A cost many of us would hesitate to pay. Those of us who aren’t true heroes, that is.
We romanticize veterans. We elevate them. But the truth is, they were simply men and women who sacrificed everything of value simply because their country asked them to. How many of us can say we have that courage within?
I hope we never have to find out.
To the ghosts of the Fallen, to my grandfather, I say this.