Last year on Memorial Day I posted in honor of my friend and serviceman John Cross (Rest in Peace). I think I will make it an annual post. There is so much to be learned from those who paid the ultimate price for freedom, but today one thing comes to mind. It is a saying that John used to close every email I ever got from him. I believe it to be a navy blessing…”Fair winds and following seas”.
Life is sometimes cruel and unfair. What better example of that than a soldier who falls in the fight for freedom? And those are the women and men that we celebrate today – but John’s wish for everyone was “Fair winds and following seas”. The story of freedom, the story of America, while certainly not perfect, contains a through-line of sacrifice for the common cause that we are all equals and that we all deserve to live in freedom and peace even though life is not always “Fair winds and following seas”.
So today, for those who have lost a loved one we say that we are so sorry for your loss and so very thankful for the sacrifice of those who have gone before. And in memory of those fallen soldiers we vow to never take for granted the freedoms that we enjoy in this country. You stand before us as examples of courage, justice, and the belief that there still are things worth fighting for in this world.
I visited John’s grave today and I was conflicted. There is a sadness in missing him…a sadness for his family and his children. I remembered hugging his sons and his daughter and being unable to fulfill that one…simple request…just to give them their Dad. And my pain and sadness would pale next to theirs. And yet I knew that when I left that place, I would go home to business as usual. I would work, laugh, sleep, and eat. In short…I would live.
And then I realized that that is exactly what John would want. He will never be forgotten and neither will the price for freedom. But through it all, the men and women who gave their lives in service of this country did so so that we could live. So this Memorial Day…remember the price paid for freedom, but also, have the courage to live and love the family and friends that surround you today. Because it is for that very reason that America’s heroes died. So that we may live in freedom.
And while life may not always seem so…I think every fallen soldier in some respect took the brunt of life’s turmoil and paid that ultimate price with a subtle, underlying refrain. The wish for each of us who honor them to have “Fair winds…and following seas”.
John Cross: March 2, 1966 – April 4, 2002