I don't know that there has ever been a more traumatic time in my life than when my dad passed away a few years ago.

My dad was a veteran - but as he was quick to point out, he didn't see any sort of combat. He had enlisted in the Navy as a way to pay for his college education. Upon his graduation he left his young wife and newborn son (me) for a couple years at sea on a ship.
He never really talked much about his Navy life, other than to say it was very mundane and boring. He was lucky that his enlistment ended right before the United States went into Vietnam.
He went on to live a full life and passed away in his 70s following a battle with cancer.

After his funeral at the church, we headed to the cemetery, where we were surprised to see 2 young members of the United States Navy waiting for us, one with bugle in hand.
On that crisp morning in April, the sound of the lone bugler playing "Taps" made such a impact. I can still remember the place I was standing. I still remember the direction of the sun, and I can still feel its rays hitting my face.
After the song ended, the two of them quietly and deliberately folded the American Flag that had been draped on my dad's casket. They then handed it to my mom, saluted and quietly went on their way.

While I look back at that day with sadness, I look back with a sense of pride. Pride that my father served his country, and proud of the life he lived.
Thankfully, after my dad's service to our country, he was able to go on and live a happy, fruitful life. He raised a family and spent most of his life helping other people.

On this Memorial Day, I remember my dad, of course, but I also remember those who died for our country and weren't able to live a full life.
I read this story this morning, and it really hits hard about the true meaning of Memorial Day. It's a story published in the New York Times, and can be found here.

Thank you to all veterans, and thanks to those whose lives were lost.