Of course today is a solemn day to contemplate and appreciate those men and women in uniform who died while serving the rest of us by defending this country. It is very important that we remember the lives of those people and what they did for us and our children.
But perhaps it can be even more. To me, because of what I did yesterday, it is.
Yesterday, I was a pallbearer in my Uncle Bill’s funeral. William Podradchik, my dad’s younger brother, died at age 69 after a yearlong fight against numerous events that conspired to eventually kill him. My Uncle Bill was a very funny, intelligent guy who clearly (based on the number of atttendees) made a difference to many people. He was not a soldier but a teacher. By all accounts (and several awards), an excellent one. I heard from many people whom I’d had never met about how much he changed their lives. I listened to his sons not only talk about what a wonderful man he was but how their lives were immeasurably better because of him (one became a teacher because of him). They could not hold back the tears but neither could that hold back laughter and joy.
And this is where I suggest that Memorial Day can be even more than it is. I humbly suggest that we all take a moment to think about those in our own lives who have made a difference to us. As we go through life, we begin to accumulate more and more lost loved ones. But if we consider their lives and what they taught us, and strive to continue learning from their positives and negatives, we are ultimately honoring them for the rest of our lives.