Today is the day set aside to honor those who have sacrificed thier lives for our great nation. To be honest, I've always struggled a bit when someone wishes me a "Happy Memorial Day." There's really nothing "happy" about today for me. A friend wished me a Happy Memorial Day the other day and my response was, "Every day is Memorial Day to me." It's been nearly 55 years since LZ Margo. Seldom a day has passed since then that I haven't thought about it or those who died. Sometimes it's a sound, a smell or a song, but it doesn't take much to take me back to that day. Admittedly, there are times I wonder why God spared me that day and has blessed my life so much.
I recently finished speaking to high school students about my experiences in Vietnam, and how LZ Margo changed my life forever. It has become my "cause" to keep the memory and spirit of those brave men alive. To say that the kids are amazing is an understatement. Not only does it make me feel young again, but it also gives me hope for the future of our country. For the first time in over 20 years, this year I included my struggles with PTSD and depression. I don't know why, but God prompted me to include it in my presentations. My new catch phrase is, "It's okay not to be okay." Ironically, I learned after my first presentation that one of their classmates had committed suicide the week before. Several of the students wrote me thank you letters and told me of their struggles with mental illness, and that I gave them hope. It brings me to tears thinking that someone so young is carrying those burdens. Thanks to God and lots of therapy, today I process those memories in a much more positive way. Maybe I just answered my question about feeling guilty for surviving September 16, 1968.
Today we honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Remember those heroes we left behind. It's up to us to keep their memory and spirit alive. I urge you to share your stories with others. We owe that to them. We're not getting any younger. Not only is it a very freeing experience, but it preserves an important part of American history. God Bless and Semper Fi.