Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

There were several days each year which, understandably, made him remember his time in the service. Today was one of those days. Memorial Day.

It occurred to him that different days reminded him of different memories. The Marine Corps Birthday, for example, always made him think of fond memories - laughing with his buddies at chow, pulling pranks - the good times. Independence Day always made him think of his time at Paris Island.

Memorial Day was always a time of mixed emotions. Sadness would be expected, as would loss, thankfulness, and even empathy. What might be surprising was anger. The way some people had a "Christmas season", with everything all building to one day, was the way Memorial Day was for Gibbs. Every year around this time the sadness and anger built and built until it overcame him on Memorial Day. He spent this Monday, every year, wallowing in his anger and thankfulness in some combination of boat building, bourbon drinking, and cemetery trolling.

This particular year's Memorial Day had started at Arlington National Cemetery and was now in the boat building stage. A particularly painful memory hit him and Gibbs threw down his tools. He walked over to his tool bench, knowing that it was far too early in the day for alcohol and not caring one bit. He was angry. Why did the government dictate that he feel this way every year? How was it their right to demand he spend time remembering his fallen comrades, his fallen friends? When was he ever, ever, going to stop feeling this heavy, sinking, dark feeling deep in his chest when he saw any type of war memorial?

Gibbs was thankful that he came home alive and physically whole. He sympathized with families who lost loved ones to war. He felt the losses of his friends to battle.

And every year he wished it was different. He wished there was no war, no death, no pain. But every year, it was the same. And some years, every once in a while, he wished he hadn't come home.