My wife reminded me a little while ago that today is Memorial Day. In the America that was, today was the day we set aside to remember the fallen soldiers who bravely served our country. In my lifetime I saw the holiday evolve into more; a day of remembrance, a reason to gather and celebrate life, a reminder to thank those soldiers still living for their service, and a time to recall the stark reminders that not all heroes come home whole or healthy.
I think about the day-long trip we made around town yesterday and I can't help but feel a bit of that same emotion for the people we have around us now.
Places like North Jackson have actual US soldiers living with them. Those men and women never gave up their duty, though all else crumbled around them. For a long time they were wanderers who gathered supplies and weapons as they searched for a place to call home. They found such a place in North Jackson, and they defend it full-time, with all the honor and experience earned from months and years in combat. That's a little mind-blowing to me, if I'm going to be honest.
To follow through with your oath after the world has fallen to pieces, that's something special. Knowing that no one would blame you for throwing in the towel and heading for home yet still choosing to fight the good fight for whatever citizens are left to protect...it takes something special.
And not to minimize those people or their character, but I see some of that same sense of honor and duty here in New Haven. The New Breed were thick in the hard-to-see spaces near the roads yesterday, and as soon as our small convoy left through the gates of New Haven they began to pace us outside of bow range.
We weren't stupid, of course--we sent people out in 'tanks'--our modified zombie-killing vehicles--to harass and demoralize the zombie threat. Two people to a truck, one driving and one manning whatever weapons the thing had other than the spikes and blades attached to them. It was fascinating to watch those teams work, running diagonal lines through the swarm as they carefully executed maneuvers to slow down and damage as many undead as possible.
Crafting that kind of attack and carrying it out is an exercise in controlled chaos. It's dangerous to the extreme. One blown tire, one too-sharp corner, and those men and women would have died. It was undoubtedly terrifying, but they clamped down on that fear and did the work. They kept the swarms from rolling over us in a crushing wave.
To defend our lives, yes. But not because we were on a mission of goodwill or trying to reach an injured child or anything. We were after mattresses and long-term care equipment, for god's sake. Granted, those mattresses were going to allow our sick people to rest more comfortably and receive better care, but it's just not the kind of thing you think about risking your life for.
Apparently, our running guard didn't think about what they were risking their lives for. Either that, or they saw the risks worth it so others could suffer less. Which, again, amazes me to no end.
All said and done, we managed it. No loss of life and no injuries to speak of, and mission accomplished. I wish I could go back in time and make more of an effort to thank and show love to all the soldiers we lost during The Fall, but I can't. Instead I'll say once more: thank you, to each of you who died and to each of you who lived. Thanks to every one of you regardless of who you are. Thank you for all you've given so the rest of us could live happier and safer lives.
I salute you.