In quiet, leafy pockets of the state, today isn't just the opening of another season of charcoal and coolers, vacations and long weekends.
For folks who will be visiting places like Montlawn Memorial Park in Raleigh and Maplewood Cemetery in Durham, Memorial Day also is a chance to ponder not just what they'll wring from summer, but the summers others gave up. A chance to wonder just what it was like to leave Raleigh or Clayton or Wake Forest for training, then that long journey by ship or plane and then, finally, to dash from a trench carrying a rifle, to try to steer a thinly-armored landing craft through the surf and geysers from artillery fire.
To drop a medevac Huey into a hole hacked in the jungle. At night. Because a wounded American won't live if you don't.
To roll down the khaki-colored streets of Ramadi, peering hard through the smudged armored glass of a Humvee, trying to spot that tell-tale glint off a wire leading to an IED.
Some didn't see that wire, or didn't have enough room between the trees in that jungle, or just weren't lucky when they got within mortar range of the beach.
Now they're in those quiet, leafy places, waiting for a visit.