The boarding school I attended was a sort of religious place. We had church services often, and required choir, prayer before each morning breakfast together. It was also a very patriotic sort of school. There were lots of flags, lots of American History emphasis, especially considering the number of international students attending. I met the Shah of Iran’s very distant relatives during the hostage crisis, as insane as that sounds; students from Ethiopia, children from France, Germany, Italy…all living in a little boarding school in Kentucky.
You know I’m back to myself when I start out talking about Memorial Day….and a paragraph 4 miles long I’m still talking about boarding school and 9th grade. *muttering amongst Space-land….Lynn’s rambling again*
We had a teacher who was very particular that we spend Memorial Day contemplating the Gifts the Soldiers who had Gone On (as he *always* put it) had Left Us. That was how the School had us spend the holiday, basically. In Chapel, watching slides of troops, parades, graveside services, Arlington Cemetary, American Flags. Singing Hymns like The Battle Hymn of the Republic, America the Beautiful, etc. Veterans who taught at the school, or would come to speak got up and talked to us about patriotism and service.
At home, Memorial Day was different.
When I was very young, we would (oh, ‘we’ being the entire gang of my dad’s side of my family…at that time probably about 30 of us or so) all troop into cars and trucks, drive out to the cemetary, pray over the dead relatives, leave flowers, then head to my Uncle’s house to swim in the pool and eat grilled burgers and homemade ice cream. The veterans in our family had all lived. We celebrated them on Veteran’s Day, and kept Memorial Day for Our dead.
The attitude was then, and is now: If lives were given up so we could be free and safe and happy…we should. We remember. We are grateful.
Every day. Not just one day. All the time. Prayers are sent up all the time. Honor and respect is given every day, not just on Memorial or Veterans Day.
It is a comment on this country, and has been for a very long time, that Memorial Day isn’t fully embraced. That anyone would think to protest the sacred burial of a soldier. That there was ever a time someone was rude and hateful to a man or woman fighting for the country, doing the job, just making a living…especially when they were drafted into the situation and they were screamed at, spat upon, vilified and abused because people disagreed with the war.
Being a soldier is an immensely honorable profession. The Armed Forces carries so much honor and respect, such bravery, fortitude…the determination and excellence and will power to exceed at the level these men and women have to perform boggles my mind. They do so under excruciating circumstances for low pay, worse benefits and in hideous conditions much of the time, and now in War Time.
There should be no apathy where Memorial Day is concerned. BUT…
there should also be fun, and frivolity, and laughter, and gratitude.
Because of them…because of the ultimate sacrifice that has been made, tens of thousands of times over and over again, I still have the freedom to sit in my home and write whatever I wish, mostly, and publish it, free of charge…mostly…across the world for anyone to read, mostly. *smile*
I have no military deaths of anyone closely connected to me. I have been blessed. The people in my family who have served have always come back.
But I have people I spent today thinking of…I don’t consider Memorial Day *just* for the Armed Forces only.
I remember Timmy, my cousin. He was eight when he died in a terrible car accident. I was eleven. I always wanted to name my first son Timmy after him.
I remember Grandma. My mom’s mom. The first of my grandparents to go. Fire and feist. The Reynolds mouth with the tango legs. She is the one who gave me the smile and the mischief behind my eyes and the ability to scream "Sex, sex, sex!" out a window.
I remember Granddaddy. Dad’s dad. A boogerhead of a man. I’m trying to remember something nice to write about him…the best thing I can think of is that he makes great story telling…all the things Grandmother said and did to him…they all started out with this tiny little woman with a tremulous voice that was getting ready to go banshee on him…."Rooobbeeerrrtttttt…..!!!!!"
I remember Tim. He was our next door neighbor for years, my confidant, my shoulder. We exchanged ‘why guys suck and aren’t worth all this damn trouble’ stories. We both hated my husband. I came and cried on him after the X would smack me around and he’d put salve on my wounds. He died a number of years ago of AIDS related complications. Tim was a good, kind, funny, sweet man and a dear friend I treasured very much.
I remember Grandpa. He was unarguably the smartest person, hands down, I ever knew. Still. He gave me the *respect* for books I have. He told me how much he’d learned from them, the practical applications you can get from books, how much smarter book readers (as a whole) are, what you can do with your life if you truly have ambition.
I’m afraid he would be very disappointed in me and my life now.
And, still with pain and so much longing, I miss Grandmother.
Gentle, sweet, loving, generous, family is everything After God Grandmother. The Grandmother that chased me around her house with a wicked whippin’ switch when I was ten because I’d said a naughty word until she caught me and then wore my butt plumb out with it. The Grandmother that accepted my divorced, with kids, for years, lifestyle when others in my very religious family tsk tsk’d me. The Grandmother who devoted her life to making sure her 4 sons and 1 daughter brought all their children and grandchildren to church every Sunday and then her house after church for lunch…didn’t matter that she had to cook ridiculous amounts of food or there ended up being 75+ people stuffed in her two bedroom tiny house.
Grandmother loved her family and wanted them around.
I remember Grandmother every day of my life. And honor her.
I hope your Memorial Day was full of honor and respect and laughter.
We pause on this Memorial Day to join in this refrain
for those who gave their All for us so Freedom we’d retain.
For Darkness they confronted in preserving Freedom’s Light
we owe them more than we can pay for giving more than Life
but Lives they gave Endure Today in Hearts and Souls and Minds
of we who drink from Freedom’s Cup the Fruits of Freedom’s Vines.
I couldn’t find the author or the title
for this poem