Remembering on Memorial Day the meaning of freedom

by Kareena Maxwell

Concho, Arizona—It always seems like some people do all the work and I get to show up and enjoy their efforts. Today was no different. I showed up at the Lions Park in Concho, Arizona, on this Memorial Day Monday celebration and got to make the rounds. After caretaking for my mother, I didn’t want to rush. I thought about taking her with me but in the last minute was grateful that she was distracted with sorting through her clothes and I went by myself. It was a guilty pleasure as I got to roam around looking for the two I met yesterday at the Concho Valley Community Church, Lesa Ward and “Skip” Higginson, but somehow I missed them. And this is Concho. We never run out of ideas and interesting lives to listen to. So, on this warm afternoon, in a town where the elevation is about 6,300 feet above sea level, under an ominous sky, I found two kids who I have worked with at the Concho Elementary School as an Instructional Aide. They too were roaming and after saying they were thirsty, we sat down together and while they ate hamburgers, and potato salad, I wanted to know how they felt about this day.

“It’s a day that you congratulate the veterans who fought for our country when they were young,” one said. “They fight for your country,” said the other. How could those answers be wrong? They aren’t … and soldiers and veterans do exactly that. As I looked around, at the tables where folks like me and the two girls sat and talked and ate the food that was prepared by volunteers and genuinely good people, I wondered if they thought like me. That they show up and someone else has done the work. I didn’t ask. I looked instead into the two faces that were in front of me. Little girls who have things done for them, for the most part, in this town in America. Some, veterans and military people, don’t go abroad and have things done for them while they get to scout the park, or even look for stories. I get to do that. I can and do make contributions to needful situations anonymously. But I can engage in freedoms because someone made my world better. In fact, many soldiers who went to battle far, far away and never came back home to sit at a table or to watch others enjoy Memorial Day, ironically the day they are part of. They got to do the work and again I got to enjoy my life and the lives of others because of their sacrifice. Today, in the peace of my world, I honor those whom I will never meet and silently say thank you for all you have done and my students have it right…you fought for this country and we thank you  and applaud you for that.


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