May 28, 2012 --
by Michal Ann McArthur
Officially, Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor those in the military who have given their lives in the service of our country. For most of my life, I haven’t given the day the proper attention and respect it deserves. Part of my neglect might be understandable. I was born on May 31, so my birthday usually coincides with the long weekend. When I was a child, Memorial Day meant birthday fun and a break from school. I was that naïve.
But even as an adult, I haven’t had much personal connection to Memorial Day. My uncle fought as a paratrooper in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. My brother-in-law served in the navy, and my nephew did a tour of duty in Iraq. Thankfully, all came home safely. The closest I ever came to a personal loss was when a high school classmate died in the Vietnam War. But I barely knew him. On Memorial Days, I felt grateful as I sang the National Anthem with my hand over my heart, mentally acknowledging the huge debt of gratitude I owe to all those who serve.
But I wasn’t impacted on a gut level.
All of that changed on December 9, 2008. On that day, the son of dear friends, Sgt. Zachary Wade McBride, was killed in Sinsil, Iraq. In a house he and his team were searching, a rigged IED exploded. Zack was twenty years old.
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