I’m a big fan of Terry Pratchett, and today marks a big day in fandom for Pratchett fans — The Glorious 25th of May. I’ll try to keep out too many spoilers for those of you who want to read Night Watch but haven’t.
Now, as an American, how could I have the gall to celebrate that on today, of all days, Memorial Day?
(You Pratchett fans were there. This is for people who weren’t).
The Glorious 25th of May is a day of rememberence — not for great and glorious heroes, but for little men who weren’t anything special. They were losers; they were mostly craven and misfits.
But they did the job that was in front of them. They didn’t do it for glory, reward or anything, but simply did the patient and unassuming duty they’d shouldered.
Friends, ultimately that’s what heroism really is — doing the job that’s in front of you.
Another of my favorite writers talks about this:
“She didn’t give up, Ben; she’s still trying to lift that stone after it has crushed her. She’s a father working while cancer eats away his insides, to bring home one more pay check. She’s a twelve-year-old trying to mother her brothers and sisters because mama had to go to Heaven. She’s a switchboard operator sticking to her post while smoke chokes her and fire cuts off her escape. She’s all the unsung heroes who couldn’t make it but never quit.” — Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein.
On Memorial Day, I don’t think of flags and bugles and glorious charges with great battle cries. Sure, such things can wring tears from my eyes in a movie, but it’s not the important part and it’s not what I think of when I think of this day. I think of everyone who patiently does the job that’s in front of him or her — and God knows our military is full of them.
And I do appriciate it that you were there.