All year long, I have two favorite holidays. I love New Year’s day and I love Memorial Day. One feels like a look ahead and the other like a look back. Today, for Memorial Day, my family and I will visit 10 cemeteries and remember not only those who lost their lives protecting our freedoms but also those from our lives whom we’ve lost. Visiting the headstones of grandparents, great-grandparents and aunts and uncles has been a family tradition that we’ve passed onto our children and everyone seems to enjoy it.
Every year, there’s one place that I enjoy going the most and that’s to a bronze plaque located in Fryburg’s cemetery that commemorates all of the locals who served in World War Two. There are fifteen names on the plaque and one asterisk. The lone asterisk is for the one man who lost his life in that great war, my great great uncle Joe. This post isn’t about his sacrifice or his service. He died in 1943 and almost everyone who knew him is gone too, but what always strikes me about that plaque is how young he was at 19. A young life cut down before his prime like nearly 450,000 others. For him, life was short.
What about the rest of us though?
We say it all of the time: “Life is short”. But is it? This weekend, I’ve been reading Seneca’s On The Shortness Of Life and in the first chapter, he makes the point that we have all of the life we need if we wouldn’t waste it. It shifted my thinking about life and how I live it. How many days have I lost to idleness? How many times have I been on my phone scrolling needlessly through Facebook when I could have been having a real conversation with the person next to me? How much of my life have I wasted?
For hundreds of thousands of brave young men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefield, yes, life is short. But for the rest of us, what’s our excuse? We have all of the life we need, if only we live it.