I love Memorial Day. It's really close to my birthday and anniversary, so those three days all close together always make this week feel kind of festive. And it's the day that summer becomes a cultural reality. Yes, the Earth hits some arbitrary point in the sky in June and we say it's summer, but this is the weekend we fire up the grill and get out the swimming gear. It's awesome.
But Memorial Day is about so much more than that. Thankfully, we live in a day where casualties of war are less common than they used to be. I don't think people mean to be disrespectful when they celebrate Memorial Day without thinking of the significance of the day. We are just more and more removed from the sacrifice our soldiers make every day.
It became a reality for me one morning this past January when Third Day flew on a cargo plane from Iraq to Kuwait. The day started out kind of upbeat, as we were done with the "work" part of the trip and were beginning our long trek home. Then our escort informed us that there would be a fallen soldier on the flight with us.
It became more than a reality, and a permanent fixture on my subconscious mind, when we stood a short distance from the plane. A long line of soldiers stood at attention as a flag-draped casket was loaded into the cargo bay. We were all in tears. As sobering as that moment was, it really helped us put our trip in perspective. The sacrifice is real. These brave men and women are literally putting their lives on the line every day, and they deserve our gratitude. Especially those who don't make it home.
So this year, on Memorial Day, I have a tangible person to think about. His name is Richard Burress. God bless you, and thank you for your sacrifice. You will not be forgotten.