Letter: Memorial Day thanks to the Sebastian-Vail
How do you celebrate Memorial Day? Like many Americans, most take advantage of the extra day off and partake in a traditional BBQ, camping and other family activities. While many Americans celebrate Memorial Day, most veterans find it to be one of the most trying days of the year. Numerous veterans make the most of it, but no matter how content they appear on the outside, they are all dealing with varying degrees of survivor guilt on the inside.
It doesn’t matter if you served in combat or not, during peacetime or for a nation at war, most have crossed paths with someone during our service who has been seriously injured or killed in training or war. Depending on the number and proximity to those individuals typically dictates the extent of the survivor guilt we deal with.
Why them? Why not me? Why can’t I take their place?
These questions haunt us most days of our lives, but especially on Memorial Day. Further adding to the frustration are the well-intentioned friends, neighbors, and relatives who wish us a “Happy Memorial Day” or say “Thank you for your service.” Although those messages come from a place of love and respect, for us, this day is very somber and definitely not happy, nor about us. It is most definitely about those who made the ultimate sacrifice and the families who have lost brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters.
A few weeks ago, a friend told me about a Memorial Day weekend deal at the Sebastian-Vail that seemed too good to be true. I then found an article in the Vail Daily about the offer of a free two-night stay over the holiday weekend for any veteran who has served our country. Afterward, I called and made a reservation for me and my family. Consequently, the Sebastian-Vail took a very heavy weekend and bore a piece of that burden for some veterans’ families and lightened our load.
We want to say thank you for making a very difficult holiday extra special and for giving us an opportunity to spend it with those we love so much. Thank you for honoring us and our families and sharing your incredible generosity with us for a couple of nights. Akin to the men and women who paid the ultimate price on the altar of freedom, your benevolence will not be forgotten.
For my brothers and sisters who live with those ever-present “Why?” questions, I know the answer. The answers to all those questions are simply not yours to make no matter how much you or I might disagree. So honor and mourn those who have gone before us, but don’t ever squander away the precious gift of life that they would all want us to live to the fullest extent possible. Respectfully, a humbled, grateful sailor and his family.
The Haffele family