Tonight, PBS will air their Memorial Day Concert, live from DC. This concert is meant to be a national memorial service for those who gave all for our country. Memorial Day all too often gets lost in the hustle and bustle of life. You may be tempted to just have a big ‘ole BBQ and call it a day.
I’m asking you to not do that. I’m asking you to please, please take a moment to remember.
I’ve been honored to be included in many events around the DC area. Some somber, some celebratory. Yesterday, I headed to the Capitol to watch the rehearsals for the concert and was given the amazing opportunity to speak with the performers as they came off the stage.
I was overwhelmed with the performances. Trace Adkins, one of my absolute favorite country singers took the stage to sing “Arlington.” Hearing this song forces you to stop and feel all the grief and heartache tied into those words. As a military spouse, listening to songs like this can be overwhelmingly painful- especially when your loved one is overseas, or headed there soon. It’s not comfortable to try on that heartache. But, that is what makes the song so valuable. It forces all of us to stop and think and realize what an amazing sacrifice service members make for our country.
As Trace Adkins came off the stage and walked over to talk to us, I didn’t feel nervous. I really thought I would, but in that moment, it really felt like he was an old friend. He stopped and told us the story of “Arlington” – how his songwriter friend had just had a big hit, and had wanted to do something nice for his family, so he brought his mom down to Nashville to go to buy a new car. When they were test driving the car, his mom and the salesman started talking. His mom was from Arlington, VA. The salesman’s son was there in Arlington National Cemetary. His son was a Marine, like he was, and his father before him. Service was a family tradition. His son didn’t make it home from war, but he did make it to Arlington.
He told us that he doesn’t just sing that song to any crowd.
“I save it for audiences like this. The audience has to be ready for it. You know, I don’t submit it to drunken crowds. We treat it with respect.”
I loved that. Because when the song is sung, you want people to stop and listen. It’s a story of someone’s son. It’s the same story for many military families. It’s a story for all of us, and it’s one that needs to be told.
This song is just one of many beautiful moments in the concert. After all day in the hot sun, hanging out with incredible talent (and you know, dancing along with the Beach Boys, one of my all time favorite bands) we sat down to watch the complete dress rehearsal for the show.
I sat there in the audience with my newfound friends, military spouses from the Army, Navy and Marines, and soaked it all in. We cried along with the stories of courage and valor and incredible loss. We held our breath while listening to some of the best musicians in the world. We laughed and danced while the Beach Boys sang, and bellowed our services song as loud and as proud as we could (I’m a huge fan of the Air Force Song!).
It’s truly a beautiful show, and it’s on tonight, at 8pm EST on PBS. They’ll be playing it live, and you should gather the kids around to watch. There are graphic moments in the dialogue, yes, but war is ugly and painful and I believe strongly that kids need to know that. There are also beautiful moments of hope and healing and remembrance that they should not miss.
I hope you have a happy and wonderful Memorial Day. You should enjoy every day you are blessed with. You should enjoy the freedoms you’ve been given. You should be happy, and be grateful. You should remember.
Take a moment to remember.