When I was growing up I had both a father and a grandfather who had served on the battlefields of the two World Wars and neither was talking much about their experiences. For so many folks who have actually served in battle saying anything that might be flattering to themselves seemed as though it took credit from the folks who did not make it home. And looking back further, the pain bleeding out of the War Between the States was still sufficiently raw that stories from that time were discussed hardly at all.
But since I had the rare opportunity to stand in the American Cemetery in Normandy, France, looking at more than 10,000 crosses representing young men (& a few women) who never returned from serving their country by overcoming an evil that raged uncontrolled across the European continent and much of the world for the most part of a decade, my awareness is different I stood and thought of all the weddings that never took place, all the children that were never born, all the parents who aged without the comfort of grown children. all the public service that did not occur and the jobs that were not done by and for these young people. In Normandy, where their blood was shed, the memories are stronger of the blessings they brought and the hope they kept alive.
So today, even if the cemetery you pass is is not one where your family lies, take a moment to remember all the folks who did not come home, or came home with scars both visible and invisible because there comes a time when someone has to step into the breach. We are so blessed that our young people came home to be solid citizens and productive members of their communities rather than to come home as was common for long ago warriors to exact payment for their service. Instead they mostly came home and kept on serving their families, their communities and their nations by leading honorable lives, raising good kids and counting their blessings for themselves and in honor of those who did not come home.
Today we remember all who sacrificed their lives, health, time, and youth to make our lives better in so many ways through their service, honor and persistent commitment to doing their best for us.