Few holidays illustrate America’s civilian/military divide quite like Memorial Day. It’s a cliché to note, but true nevertheless — that for millions of Americans, Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer and the opening of swimming pools more than it does the immense loss of ultimate sacrifice. For a smaller population, however, Memorial Day provides the kind of stop-you-your-tracks moments that remind you of days of grief and pain.
I remember years ago watching a Memorial Day weekend race on NASCAR. During the pre-race festivities, a man played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes to honor those who paid the ultimate price. I had to leave the room. The memories — of hearing that same song played the same for men whom I knew — were simply too fresh.