Since yesterday was Memorial Day, this is dedicated to the memories of my military friends who have passed away and to let my military friends know I haven’t forgotten them. I even pulled out photos and clippings tonight to let my mind relive some great times. But as much fun as I had in the military, it wasn’t all fun and games. In fact, I can honestly say there were some times where I was stressed out far beyond anything I’ve ever encountered in the civilian world. Piss off the wrong person, and you could find yourself knocked down a few pay grades… or find it difficult to get promoted to the next one. Minor mistakes might be forgiven, but make a mistake at the wrong time, and your livelihood’s in danger (or in some cases, your life). Political agendas. Power trips from kids fresh out of college being put in charge of teams. Superiors that feel threatened if you’re too smart. Superiors that feel threatened if you’re not good enough and might make them look bad. All the fun stuff.

But at the end of each day, there always seemed to be good friends to help you get through it all. Friends to laugh with. Friends to party with. Friends to chat with. Friends to help out when you needed it. Heck, one of these military members became my best friend… and my wife.

Some of those friends though… they died serving in the military. It’s not all glory and “take a bullet for your country and bleed patriotism” when it comes to people dying in the service. I’ve had military friends die from things like a training accident, helicopter crash, heart attack, motorcycle wreck, and suicide. And even though I try to put it off as late as I can on Memorial Day (considering it’s the next morning already), I still take time to remember them each Memorial Day. A couple of those friends were there for me during some rough times and helped get my life back on track. I always seem to find good people like that in my life, and it always hurts when you lose a good friend like that.

They did some good in their short lives, and whenever I go out of my way to help someone, part of the reason I do it is for them. Sometimes, it’s tough to find the time and effort to help others. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel like the help is even appreciated. Sometimes, it feels like others are out there doing their damnedest to undermine my efforts for whatever crazy reason they might have. And sometimes, I wonder why I even bother. But every year on Memorial Day, I remember. I remember what their friendships did for me… for my life. They each could have done so much more for so many others, but they can’t. So I do what I can to pass on what was given to me… hope, confidence, laughter, happiness, friendship and so much more.

It’s my way of thanking them for what they did for me because… well, I never really took the time to thank them when I could.