Last Thursday evening, I picked The Rib up from work and we decided to grab a quick bite at the IHOP in Alexandria, VA, just south of Arlington/Crystal City. We parked the truck next to a couple of Harleys that displayed the patch of a local Vietnam Veterans’ motorcycle club from New Hampshire and were honored to have the opportunity to thank the two men riding those bikes for their service as they were leaving.
We lived in the Crystal/Pentagon City neighborhood for three years and one of the highlights of that time was every year on Memorial Day weekend when Veterans from all over the country would descend on our nation’s capital to ride their motorcycles en masse to the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in remembrance of those who have perished while wearing the uniform of our nation’s Armed Forces. It was always nice to see the nice bikes, flags, and unit patches rolling up the road for four or five days for a great cause.
As I take a few minutes to reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day, I think of the commitment of the men and women who ride from all over the country to remember the fallen with whom they once served. I will enjoy a day at the beach with great friends drinking, grilling burgers, and laughing; those that rode to “The Wall” today will spend their day remembering the last time they saw the man who fought alongside them before dying.
As a Former Marine, I know the lifelong bond that forms between service members who serve together. I haven’t kept up with all my best buddies from the Corps, but I know that seeing them again—even after ten-plus years—would be more like a reunion following a two-week absence. I also know there are a couple of guys that I served with who would drop everything—no questions asked—to be anywhere across time and space to help me if I simply asked, even though we hadn’t necessarily spoken in several years. That is what the men and women on those loud motorcycles are doing today—coming to their buddies’ aid from across the country to pay their respects to unforgotten friends and to remind us all to take just a moment to do the same.
Please take a moment today to reflect on the lost lives of our fighting men and women before you fire up the grill, head to the pool, or gas up the boat for a day on the lake. Those that serve have volunteered and/or answered the call to serve without hesitation or regard for religious, political, or ideological belief. They do not necessarily represent our “brightest,” but they always represent our “best.”
May we always remember those who have fallen with reverence and treat those who are currently serving with respect.