Growing up, we didn’t talk much about our family’s heritage. There were no tales of heroic deeds by famous grandfathers who put their lives on the line for our country. No stories of compassionate great aunts who ground their hands to the bone in support of troops. We were only told that we were descendants of William Tecumseh Sherman, which, growing up in the Deep South, was like a Bigfoot skeleton we kept deadbolted in the closet. Despite this, we were conditioned at an early age that the sacrifices made by others to protect American freedom were noble deeds worthy of our utmost respect and honor.

I enlisted in the US Air Force out of High School and served 4-years under President Reagan. So the closest I ever came to losing my life for my country was when I drank too much Soju in the ROK and tried to pick a fight with a train. But I was absolutely willing to die for the idea of America. We all were.

Despite our many flaws, America represents the great human experiment in pluralism. We think differently. We worship differently. We date differently. But none of that matters next to our united belief that all human beings are born with certain inalienable rights. And that as long as we all play fairly with each other, we can make this work. Yes, this takes sacrifice. But next to giving your life for your country, the sacrifices you must endure to do your part in making this a great country are trivial.

Try to imagine what it must have been like to be on the battlefield in Antietam. Or on the beaches of Normandy. Or in the jungles of Cambodia. Or on the streets of Fallujah. Unless you’ve been faced with the prospect of giving your life for your country, you simply can’t imagine it. Neither can I.

So please, take a moment this Memorial Day as you sit comfortably at the beach or the pool with your drink and your device – and think about the sacrifices of others who made this moment possible.

God blesses America every day. Take the time to notice. Hail the victorious dead.


Jim Mitchem

Jim Mitchem, 1982, Lackland AFB, TX

Faster Pussycat
The Life and Death of the Big Idea

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.