Since I’m the only member of my family that served in the military you might think that Memorial Day is just another three-day weekend for me.

There’s no parent or grandparent I need to remember for their service on this special day.

I am reminded that my grandfather created a genealogy of our family and some of their history.

Four Egelhoff brothers came to America from Germany in 1850. Why come to America at that particular time?

They came to avoid serving in the German military. As a result of that journey I’m left with a proud history of being the first of my family unable to dodge the draft into military service.

My Time In Vietnam

As Vietnam veteran I’ve seen more death than I would like. Every so often there would be an empty bunk in our tent.

And there was always that nagging feeling of why him and not me? I think every survivor of any war comes home with a twinge of guilt that never really leaves.

Lucky? Absolutely. Worthy? That’s a whole other topic.

The war has been over for me since 1967. We have a replica of the Vietnam Wall in Bozeman. I have not yet been able to force myself to go and honor those fallen heroes.

I don’t want to see those familiar names etched into that dark, cold, stone face. People I played cards with or embellished stories with or cried with.

Some Final Thoughts

If you have a service person in your family or circle of friends you’re very fortunate. Many on this day will have an empty seat at the table.

Memorial Day is a hard day for many but the memories of those closest to us need to be kept alive. We celebrate who they were — not what we lost.

So today I offer thanks to my brothers in arms who made the supreme sacrifice. I will keep the faith and continue to champion the beliefs you died for.