Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day- What does it mean to you?

As this much needed long weekend approaches I have been reflecting back on several discussions I have had over the last month. It is apparent, that in this overstimulated, rat raced, narcissistic, disconnected world we now live in (well, isn't that a positive way to start a post...), many of us have forgotten the reason we have this long weekend in the first place.  We owe this break to the countless men and women who lost their lives fighting for the very place we call home.    

During WW2 alone, over 400,000 men and women exhibited the utmost of courage, and valiance, that I do not have, and lost their lives in one of the scariest places-war, just so you and I can live a privileged life of freedoms.  And that is exactly what we have in this country- freedom, regardless of what political party you are associated with.  We have more freedoms and choices than most of us can even comprehend.

Only 2 of these R.C.A.F. 111(f) pilots survived the war.  L-R: Frank Skelly, Frank Crowley, Joseph 'Red' McLeod, Ed Merkley, Hal Gooding, Clifford Hicks, Jim Gohl and Nick Stusiak in Kodiak, Alaska.   Photo Credit. Bill Eull

We are incredibly privileged and fortunate to make North America our home.  When we lose sight of the sacrifices made by those who came before us, it diminishes the amount of contentedness we feel for our current lifestyle.   Again, a lifestyle made possible by those who fought for the survival of this country we now enjoy!   Continuing to remember their significant contribution to our life, allows us to put into perspective, just how blessed we all are.   The reality is, if those brave servicemen and women had not paid the ultimate price, then rest assured, our lives would look very different right now.  We have to be thankful.  We have to remember their sacrifices.

So I ask, before your festivities begin, that you take moment to reflect on your life, on your priorities, your decisions, and on your outlook and if necessary make some positive adjustments- mentally or otherwise to live up to your end of the deal.  Life is meant to be lived happily.  Hundreds of thousands of airmen, marines, soldiers, sailors and coastguardsmen paid the ultimate price just so you could do so.   The gift they left behind is the power and freedom of choice so that you can make the changes needed to live a fulfilled life.   You not only owe it to yourself but you also owe it to every single person who died fighting for every liberty you enjoy today.

Otherwise, what the heck were they fighting for? 

Today's post is dedicated to R.C.A.F. P/O (Pilot Officer) Ed Merkley.  He was one of my grandfathers closest friends and I have numerous pictures of them together.   One of my absolute favorites is below.  Ed survived the treacherous flying conditions of the Aleutians, went on to fly with the 440(f) overseas and was killed November 19th, 1943. 

R.C.A.F. P/O (Pilot Officer) Ed Merkley

A Christmas card from Ed sent to my grandfather just before he died.  1943
 " Dear Bob & Eileen,
How goes things with you?  I am doing fine.   Gee- these Spits are a real air craft.
We just came back from a 48-    boy did we get goosed. Sure had fun-and you can't beat fun- Life is good.
Hope you manage to get home for Xmas. 
How is instructing going? Are you going to quit smoking Eileen, if you go home at Xmas?
              Best of Luck,   Ed."

L-R- P/O Robert Lynch & Ed Merkely, S.F.T.S. #2 Uplands Ontario, 1941

With that I wish you a Happy Memorial Day and remember- as Ed said, even in the middle of war- life is good.