What veterans really think about on Memorial Day

Story highlights

  • Memorial Day triggers tough feelings for many war veterans, says wounded Iraq vet Luke Murphy
  • Sometimes nonveterans and nonfamily members "just don't give a damn" about military sacrifice on Memorial Day, Murphy says
  • Murphy shares his memories about a friend and fellow soldier he lost in Iraq

Retired Army Staff Sgt. Luke Murphy served two tours with the 101st Airborne Division's 187th Infantry Regiment. He was catastrophically wounded in 2006, when a roadside bomb blast resulted in the amputation of his right leg. He is the author of "Blasted by Adversity: the Making of a Wounded Warrior." Find him at LukeMurphy101.com. The views expressed in this commentary are entirely those of the author.

(CNN)As a wounded veteran who served two tours in Iraq, I've been asked to give speeches at Memorial Day celebrations. It's one of the hardest jobs I've ever done.

Veterans Day is easy. Fourth of July, a piece of cake.
But Memorial Day, that's a tough one.
    Service members like me think about the soldiers we lost pretty often. I remember when he was alive, all the stuff we did -- the training, combat and even just hanging out together off duty. Then my mind usually goes to the day of his death. I remember where I was when I heard about it, or what it felt like to see him catastrophically wounded. I picture their faces. They're young; they never get old.
    I remember where I was when I learned that Sgt. 1st Class Jason Bishop died. I had heard the explosion; I just didn't know it was him.
    Bishop and some of us guys used to work on our vehicles together on weekends while in the States. He was a couple of ranks higher than we were, so technically we shouldn't have been hanging out. But Bishop had a garage, the right tools and the knowledge. I knew his wife and I can picture him holding his 2-year-old son. I look at my old jeep now and remember who did the work on it.
    Murphy patrols in the Sadr City area of Baghdad, Iraq, in an undated photo.