As many of you will know Memorial Day is a time to remember those in the military who have died. We use lots of different language to describe these experiences but language often fails when it comes to death. But remembering the dead is an activity that needs expression. One of the many possible legitimate and helpful expressions is to run. When I am overwhelmed by the thoughts and feelings about those who gave their lives while serving their country in the military- my friends who are gone before me- I go for a run. When I have no words to say thinking about the light in someone’s eyes extinguished from this earth in a moment I go for a run. When I am agonized and racked with guilt and wonder why them and not me? I go for a run. Now there are certainly plenty of other things I and others do on Memorial Day to express our grief and honor those we lost but one thing I do is to go for a run.
In another lifetime I was on a race team in the Army. There was another guy on the team- someone who became a friend. His name was Mike. Mike was a lot faster than me. Mike was friendly and funny. He showed empathy (not something that was always a priority in the Army). He was encouraging and supportive even while he was blowing by me in practice and at races. Mike died over seas. When I go for a run today I am going to remember Mike. I wish he was still here. I wish his daughter (who was very young when he died) could have gotten to know her dad. I wish that I had more and better words to honor Mike and his sacrifice. I do not; my words fail me. I know that Mike would go for a run if he was in my place. Sure, that run would be a lot faster than anything I could pull off on my best day, but I know that Mike would tell me I was doing great and that I could keep getting better. I really miss his optimism.
So today as we observe memorial day (which is very different from Veteran’s day and Armed Services Day)I would encourage all of you to go for a run. If you can’t run try walking. And while you are out (or on your treadmill as the case may be) remember those who died. It might not be the happiest thing you do this week, but it will be worth it. Unfortunately Mike is not alone and there are many more who made his sacrifice. If you would like to leave the name of someone in the military who died in the comments below that would be appropriate and I will remember them with you.
I miss you Mike. I wish you were here. I am going for a run now.