On Memorial Day

The following is a Memorial Day post that I wrote last year for my old blog:

And so it rained two years in a row on Memorial Day, but this year the rain was less gentle and something more fierce. Hard silvery lines bouncing off the black pavement. Asphalt covered in puddles and rivulets and running water everywhere. The thunder and lightning were violent: windows shuddered, they shaked and rattled and car alarms went off. Everything just a little bit mad, a little bit wild, a little bit out-of-control. As the day went on the rain eased and slowed and stopped and the sun came out, a soggy late afternoon sun peering through a humid and blurry mist.

No parade for me today. I worked at home and waited for the on-call pager to go off, the cell to ring, the hospital to beckon, but it only rained and thundered and “lightning-ed”.

And how many years has it been now?

In 2003, I got an email message in my inbox. An ordinary work day for me, filled with trays and trays of biopsies and phone calls from aggrieved physicians. “The patient is calling. Is the biopsy result ready yet?”

There it was: the photo of a young man in uniform with a flag displayed behind him and a message written below the photograph:

“Our beloved….”

A woman that I’d met a few times – once while we both served as bridesmaids at the Los Angeles wedding of a mutual friend – had sent me an email, one in a long line of messages to everyone in an email list. He looked so young.

He was young.

It’s curious how often during the course of a normal day that I think of you, and of your sister, and of that small stylish wedding before the war where your sister and I helped our friend Kimberly with all the final little wedding details.

RIP, Joe. People that never even met you – never even knew you – miss you.

6 thoughts on “On Memorial Day”

  1. That is what happened to MIchael Kelly, who was the editor of The New Republic until Marty Peretz fired him because he criticized Al Gore. Kelly went to work for The Atlantic and was in Iraq on assignment. If I had been younger, I would have volunteered to go as a surgeon. One orthopedic surgeon, whose son had been killed, got Bush to waive the age requirements of the Navy and went to Iraq (or Afghanistan) at the age of 60.

    Thank God for these kids.

  2. What really gets to me – is reading the ages of the fallen on our Vietnam memorial. It is almost always the young who die in war but so many before the age of 20 died in SE Asia.

  3. Thank God for the remnants of a society that can still produce such men and women, and mark and mourn their loss.
    Thank you, men and women for your sacrifices.
    Thank you, families who have lost such Americans as these.

  4. Dan from Madison – that’s a very nice comment. Thank you. I didn’t know Joe but know his sister through our common friend.

    Michael Kennedy – I remember that. I remember his columns. A wonderful writer. Very sad.

    Bill Brandt – I have never been to the Vietnam War Memorial but would like to visit it someday. There was a popular music single from the 80s about the average age (18) of the Vietnam soldier.

    Mlyster – yes.

    Jonathan – thanks.

    – Madhu

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