Monday, May 26, 2008

Thoughts for Memorial Day 2008


Memorial Day -- a time to honor those who served, and also to re-member.

I'm going to preface this with a little story. Once back when, when I was overwhelmed with big house, kids, dogs, busy husband -- my mother-in-law said to me, "You will think back on this as the best time of your life. Really."

And now for Memorial Day. Well, I coach many people, and a fair percentage of middle-aged folks "in transition." Some of the men are going through memories, processing past stages of their lives, including Vietnam. Since that war had less pubilc support and acclamation than others, it is kind of different, but how different can "war" be? War is war, and as Ulysses S. Grant said, "it is hell."

However, something struck me in listening to a friend of mine who works at a senior apartment complex. It is very upscale, and some of the residents are in their 90s, even some nearing 100. I also have a young friend who works there as a waitress. She just started that job so I asked her the other day how it was and what she did. She said, "I listen to the old men talk about World War II. It is the most meaningful job I have ever had."

So here we have gentlemen who served in World War II, talking about it every morning when they are in their 80s and 90s. Was it the best time of their life (as my father said, who served in WW II), or the worst (as my friend says about Vietnam -- yet he talks about it all the time)? Was it, as Dickens so ripely began his great novel, "the best of times and the worst of times"?

The intense times in life makes the memories. If you feel yourself in a war zone right now -- literally or figuratively -- you might just consider that thought. You will surely be looking back at the time later one, with mixed but potent memories.

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