Memorial Day

by Jessica Stammen

This Memorial Day takes on new meaning for me. My brother Greg was deployed to Afghanistan three weeks ago. He flew out under the light of the supermoon and we’re not sure when he’ll be home. I do not get involved in politics (which I guess is a form of involvement in the same way not believing in God is in fact a belief); and my feelings about the military are complicated. But I love my brother, and the life he leads leaves me shaking with humility and pride all at the same time.

I do not have many words on this day, just the awareness of a new, very deep place in my heart that suddenly connects me with family members who have, throughout the history of time and across cultures, missed their loved ones profoundly and prayed for their safe return.

I greatly appreciate the following thoughts shared in a recent post by The Maine’s Sharon Kitchens on her own blog.

So after the baseball, Indianapolis 500, beer and barbecue..while you are wrapping up the red, white and blue streamers…truly give pause to think how little you could do that would be giving so much to those with the daunting task of protecting what we hold so dear. They stand so we can sit in the shade, sip our iced tea and watch our loved ones grow old.

How to support our nation’s service members:

When you see someone in uniform thank them for their service. It’s free, takes a few seconds and will make their day and likely yours too.

Write letters or send care packages to soldiers – visit  www.army.mil/howyoucanhelp.  I adopted a friend of the family’s platoon when he was stationed in Iraq a couple years ago and just adopted another platoon via contacts made from this site a month ago.  For the next several months (as long as they are deployed) I’ll send packages with DVDs, Ziploc Bags, Batteries, Air Fresheners, Toiletries (shampoo, shaving gel, toothpaste), Hard Candies, Chewing Gum, Gummy Snacks and Pringles. Thanks to Rock City Roasters, I was able to send over several pounds of coffee, and a local video store and friends in the film business are ensuring these soldiers get a box of new DVDs a month. People can be SO supportive if you give them the chance!  Time wise this is a trip to Target or Walmart and UPS. Cost wise (including contents and greatly discounted postage) we’re talking around $100 a month, but that’s me…your boxes don’t have to be so big and you don’t have to send as many. I can’t help myself. I love supporting the troops, it selfishly makes me feel good.

Wounded Warrior Project – donate to this amazing organization providing unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members.