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A Perspective On Sacrifice

By Bob Priest-Heck

Across the United States, the last Monday in May is Memorial Day, a federal holiday set aside for honoring the men and women who gave their lives while serving in the military. I know many countries have similar remembrances that mark the sacrifice made by fallen heroes. Here, it’s often observed with small-town parades, cemetery visits to lay flowers on the graves of loved ones, and family gatherings that celebrate the beginning of summer.

This Memorial Day, many of us will still be under quarantine restrictions. Parades have been cancelled. Picnics will be limited to nuclear families. It sometimes feels as if we are actually at war, and everyone is experiencing battle fatigue. In fact, the language of war has infiltrated daily conversations and newsfeeds. We talk about combating the spread of the COVID-19 virus, declaring war on the pandemic, arming medical staff, and deploying our frontline workers. Just as in WWII, we’ve seen the conversion of manufacturing facilities to produce a new arsenal — in this case, ventilators, hand sanitizer and protective equipment. Just as in war time, we have true heroes who put their lives on the line: doctors and nurses, first responders, and other essential workers. And just as in war time, some of these people have made the ultimate sacrifice. Sadly, their grieving families can’t even receive the consolation of a public memorial service.

So, this Memorial Day, I salute our veterans, of course. They have earned our eternal gratitude. But I am also thinking of everyone who has had to “soldier up,” who’s had to take a very deep breath and just keep marching forward without knowing what lies ahead. To be sure, the most pressure is on the frontline workers. Thank you to all who serve in this way. But my admiration extends beyond their huge sacrifice. It embraces parents trying to keep their children educated and entertained, neighbors keeping an eye out for each other, and the more vulnerable among us who are quietly self-quarantining and trying to flatten the curve. We are all in this battle. We are all trying to make the right choices and fight the good fight.

I am grateful to each of you.

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