Memorial Day Memories

Picture of a Harry Truman quote on a war memorial
Picture of a Harry Truman quote on a war memorial

Memorial Day occurs every year on the last Monday in May. It is the day of the year when you are supposed to honor fallen military service veterans. This day used to mean parades of past service members and visits to graves of the fallen to thank them and to honor them. It seems that now, it’s just another holiday weekend. I find this rather disheartening, but I attribute this failing to a mass of apathy. The general attitude of society in general the past few decades are that if it does not benefit them directly, it is worthless or undeserving of their attention.

When I was younger, I attended the parades, saluted the veterans, visited the graves. I was taught by my grandfather, a WWII veteran, and my grandmother’s brother-in-law, either WWII or Korea,  about freedom and the price paid for it. I helped Uncle Pardy sell red poppy flower pins at the parade for the Marion, MA VFW. I held hands with old men and prayed with them as they visited their fallen friends and comrades. I have always had great respect for those that answer the call to serve our country.

In today’s times, with all of the social networking and instant gratification news, not once did I see anyone I know make plans to go to a cemetery to thank the fallen. All I saw was plans to go to the beach, to barbecue, to party for a long weekend off of work. I assure you that had I been in a position to do so, I would have been at any of the few honoring ceremonies, or traveling to cemeteries to pay my respects. I would have started with my grandfather’s brothers that have passed away, WWII and Korea veterans, and hunted down any other graves that indicated a fallen veteran. Had I been back in Massachusetts, I would have been tending my grandparents’ graves, my great-uncle’s grave, and any others that I found in the areas where I was going. I would have bought red poppy pins and explained the reason for them to my daughter. We would have been standing at attention saluting the veterans in the parade. When all of that was done, then, and only then, would we have cooked out or gone to the beach. I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the weekend’s festivities until I felt that I had earned them, but first honoring the fallen, as I was raised to do.

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