Ever since Memorial Day more than a week ago, I've thought a good deal about the sacrifices of the men and women who serve in our military. Memorial Day was designed to remember those who have died while serving their country.
Lately, however, I've wondered just how narrowly that might be defined. Is it possible to broaden the intent of that day of remembrance?
When I reflect on it, I'm so aware of many men and women whose bodies have returned home from war—but whose hearts, souls and minds aren't fully back home. Perhaps they suffer from PTSD. Maybe the memories of war caused them to commit suicide once they returned home. For whatever reason, many remain casualties of war even though they're back home with their families. In fact, a 2013 article cites statistics saying that the number of returned soldiers who committed suicide exceeded the number of those killed in a war zone in 2012.
I don't mean to take away from the fact that we honor our war dead. Memorial Day is an important time to do that. I just wonder if it might be time to recognize that there are many ways to die—slowly and piece by piece, or even by suicide—when the memories of what's been experienced are just too horrendous. Perhaps it's a time when we can take a different view rather than narrowing our definitions.
To me, this is just one more example of the complexity of life—and of life being both/and rather than being either/or and so clear cut.