Today is Memorial Day – a day set aside to honor those who died in the service of our country. While my father did not die in combat, he did serve in the US Navy in World War II, and I always think of today as a special day to honor and remember Robert James Bach. His ship (see above) was at Iwo Jima, he was training in the Philippines for the invasion of Japan, and he walked the streets of Hiroshima after the devastation of the first atomic bomb. He returned from the war to a successful civilian life, supported a family of five, survived cancer, and lived as a loving husband into his 80’s. And I know that his service in World War II – what he saw, what he experienced, what he survived – changed him forever in good and challenging ways. So today we absolutely honor all of those that served and continue to serve – and especially those who sacrificed their lives for our country.
But Memorial Day has always been about more than that for me. Military service is an honorable and amazing gift to our country – one that is unique and special in many ways. So, I sincerely hope that nothing else I say takes away from that. Still, the military is not the only way people serve. In my circle of family, friends, and acquaintances there are first responders, doctors, nurses, school teachers, priests and religious, and those who hold government offices. Others work for or volunteer at organizations like Boys and Girls Clubs, Teach for America, Habitat for Humanity, food banks, and a myriad of other non-profit and social service organizations. While their service is generally not life-threatening, their efforts change the lives of others – and change their own lives – in fundamental ways.
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