Today is Memorial Day. Today, Americans will honor and remember patriots who lost their lives fighting for freedoms we hold dear. Other nations honor their heroes in a similar way.
In my family, we experienced Memorial Day through the eyes of my grandfather, who fought in World War II. As the navigator, his B-24 air crew relied on him to guide them during bombing raids then back to their airbase in England with the use of celestial navigation, sextant, and compass — long before GPS. Even into his 80s, I remember my grandfather’s eyes sadden as he shared stories of young men he knew who never returned home to their families.
It was a phenomenon I didn’t quite grasp until I served in Iraq. As a civilian in a war zone, I worked alongside the U.S. Military, as well as servicemen from the United Kingdom, Australia, and Poland. Instead of hearing stories safely from afar, I had an upfront view watching America’s Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines serve in a dusty and violent environment.