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I Am Loved

My love/hate relationship with Memorial Day

by David Elwell


I love lots of things. I love my wife. I love my kids. I love flying powered paragliders and grilling (though it’s different). I love my family, friends and even some people who aren’t deserving of friends.

I love sleeping in.

I love seeing people let go of pride and anger and choose life in everyday moments.

I love when healthy confrontation leads to reconciliation.

I love to laugh, but more than that, I love to laugh with Katie.

I love when my kids make good, kind, and generous decisions on their own.

I love seeing genuine character in young men and women.

As I said, I love lots of things.

That said, not all the things I love are truly good. This time of year, I reach my lowest point. It’s better now than in days past, but I still wrestle with a love to hate. Perhaps I should call it a love to loathe. However we label it, I will admit that every year at Memorial Day I hit my lowest. I love to hate Memorial Day. And I’m wrong for that.

Gosh, it’s even hard to write this and admit in print...

A Missing Man Formation may honor a fallen pilot, military service member, or veteran. (Marco Garcia | AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
A Missing Man Formation may honor a fallen pilot, military service member, or veteran. (Marco Garcia | AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

Loving to hate Memorial Day

As young Marines, we knew quite keenly that we were mortal. Actually, we figured we were somehow mortal and invincible at the same time.

I know that’s not just a military thing – that's a mindset of many adolescents and young adults. But the bonds forged in active military service are quite different than any others I’ve experienced.

Add in the understanding that together you have earned a part of the legacy of the world’s most elite warfighting organization, and you have a permanent fraternity.

Losing a brother in combat, while traumatic in the moment, sometimes takes years to fully settle into the soul. Unfortunately for some, the realization of the hurt leads to misplaced emphasis. We don’t all have the same quality support networks of faith, family, and community. Unless we are honest, willing to change, and open to hope, the dark path only grows wider and darker.

This is where I have been wrong, and I am committing to seek something better (I think a Bible-word is “repent”). For too long I have loved to hate Memorial Day. I’ve sulked too many times for any of it to really honor the lives and sacrifices of dear people. I am not the center of the universe, my grief is not the center of my story, and, by God, the loss of my brothers is not the capstone of their legacy.

No matter how poignant and personal the grief is, this loathing is not the point of Memorial Day. If it were possible, I am convinced that every brother or sister; son or daughter; and father or mother you and I have ever lost while in service to our country would tell us to quit moping and do something meaningful. They might tell us to enjoy a beer, snuggle with our spouse, kiss our kid on the head, enjoy our hobby, get help for our addiction, step up in leadership, and bless God by blessing others.


A freedom we take for granted

The red poppy is a symbol of sacrifice worn to honor those who served and died for our country.
The red poppy is a symbol of sacrifice worn to honor those who served and died for our country.

Aviator Brew Hub is not a gimmick brand. As many of you know, I have a close connection and personal history with military aviation. Flying is inherently dangerous--what goes up, must come down.

By God’s grace, I’ll do my best to be inspired by the courage, intentionality, and sheer delight-of-life that I had the privilege to witness from some very dear aviators who now soar far beyond the brilliance and boundaries of our skies. I will do my best to love the good things on my “love list” more – not less. The influence these dear brothers had on me is meant to lift my eyes up, not cast them down.

This has been very hard to write. Pray for families this weekend. Maybe, if it’s appropriate, write the family of the ones you lost. Acknowledge the freedom and security we take for granted. And for just one day, don’t blame anyone for ruining your country. Rather, thank God for letting us know men and women who gave us a glimpse of how good we really can be. And then step up to a higher call.

There is no greater love than this: that someone would lay down His life for a friend. While I don’t love the way it feels, I am so moved to have been so deeply loved.

~David, co-owner, loved

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