Memorial Memories

I haven’t posted in a while. No valid excuse except my crappy mood and trying to get things ready for Will’s move.

Anyway, this was a post I wanted to write, but I had to wait until I wasn’t so irritated at people.

I’m a major supporter of our troops. This comes as no surprise to those of you who know me. I was going to write a post on Memorial Day, but the social media organizations I frequent had me in such a foul mood, I decide to wait.

Memorial Day. It’s a day we remember our fallen. We remember the ultimate sacrifice of Americans who served in the armed forces. For my family, it was also a day we cleaned the graves of our loved ones and planted flowers. When I lived with my grandparents and aunt, we spent days making little paper or ribbon flowers for the graves. I don’t remember how we made them now. I think it was a Victorian craft. I just remember making them and turning them into little bouquets.

Aunt Rose also drove into town and bought potted plants. We went out to the Savage cemetery and dug up the soil on the top of the grave, mixed in some fertilizer and covered the graves with a blanket of live plants. She was partial to petunias for the graves. I assume they grew better without much care in the hot Montana summers. When we were finished, all of our family graves were covered with a riot of bright colors. My uncle Herb was buried there. He had served in WWII and later went to Hollywood after a producer saw him ride in a rodeo at Madison Square Gardens and asked him to screen test. Herb appeared in one film and probably would have gone one to a bright career, but he hated Hollywood and went back home. It was there he was killed in an accident at a sugar beet factory where he worked.

My dad always had a wreath sent to put on my little brother’s grave. He never ever forgot to honor Stevie. It was important to him to remember the dead.

I was reminded of this when Will was in the JROTC in high school. The kids gathered together at the VFW and they went out to the cemeteries to put flags on the war dead graves. One of the old cemeteries had several Civil War veteran graves. Will came back from his first trip and commented about how many of the old soldiers stopped at certain graves and wept for their friends. Some found old friends they didn’t know had died. It was an emotional time.

I guess it’s old fashioned, but Memorial Day has always been a somber occasion to me. It’s a day we stop what we are doing and take a moment to think about those who have fallen.

Instead, it’s turned into another reason for sales, picnics, drinking beer and just a reason not to have to go to work. I’m not sure congress changing the original date was a good idea. Now it’s just a three day weekend.

So, I spent part of the day watching people wish each other a happy Memorial Day and talking about their barbecues. Someone made a comment that I found particularly interesting and I asked them if they knew what Memorial Day was.

They didn’t.

I’ve become friends with a lady on twitter who is a Gold Star parent. That means she’s lost a child in the military. Angela is very supportive of the troops and an interesting lady, but she is still grieving. The wounds heal some, but they never go away. I was a bit upset by the callous way she was treated by some who didn’t really have a clue what Memorial Day was.

I guess this is one reason I waited to write this. I hated seeing her hurting again. To make matters worse, one of the young men in her son’s unit had recently died, so the wounds were opened all over again.

Another gentleman I follow on twitter is a Lt. Colonel in the reserves. He gave a speech at Hollywood Memorial Park that I thought was particularly moving.

Lt. Colonel Schlichter’s speech.

I hope you all with listen to his speech. It gives us all something to think about. Our history is dying every day with these old veterans.

When I was in Montana at Ft. Harris with my dad after he had his stroke, I spent some time with a lot of these people. There were times Dad was in therapy or being tested so I had to leave the room. It was in those times, I really got to know some of the patients there.

This frail little men were once the best our country had to offer. Our best was good enough. Now, in honor of them and what they did we should preserve their stories and their history before it passes with them. Let our gift of love be a gift of remembrance.

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