This past summer I got really excited about researching my family history. I knew about my close relatives, but I had no idea about a lot of my extended family. Doing this research has been really rewarding, as I've gotten to learn a lot about family history and a little bit about what my relatives were like. I've also included my husband's family in some of this, and it's been so interesting to get to know their past as well.
One thing I've begun to appreciate is how many people in our families served in the military, both in war and in peace time. My Father-in-law served in Vietnam, my Uncle and cousin, too. My Grandfather was in WWII (enrolling in his 30s, which was quite late for those days!). We visited the Pennsylvania Memorial at Gettysburg as part of our trip and I found my Great, Great Grandfather and his brother listed on the memorial. I've been able to trace my family back to the Revolutionary War as well (and I'm sure military service goes back farther than that...)
I also have quite a few friends who have served. My best friend's husband is both Navy and civilian. My Mom worked for the DOD her whole career as a civilian. One of our closest friends in grad school served in the Gulf War. Veterans are everywhere. And their lost colleagues are as well.
Sometimes, it's hard for me to imagine leaving my family and setting off halfway across the world (or to the battlefield next door) and serving my country. It's certainly something I will never do. However, it's our responsibility to remember these sacrifices today (and all days, really). These soldiers served our country, which would not ever be the same after these wars. Their families and friends served, too. So, today, I remember that it's not about BBQ, or the unofficial beginning of summer. It's about those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and their families, friends and communities who have endured that. And to those who served (or who still serve), you are in my thoughts today, as we remember the unbelievable sacrifices made in the name of our country.