Happy Memorial Day
Memorial Day... Originally a celebration to bring to mind the veterans of the Civil War as their numbers grew fewer and fewer. It was originally known as Remembrance Day, and people used to sit around with Grandma and Grandpa listening to stories about those hard times, North or South, when men slept 10-12 to a tent, nested like spoons, trying to survive the winter cold and wondering which comrade would not be there for the bread breaking at dinner. At a time when life expectancy was in the low sixties, veterans in their seventies would send each other postcards depicting wreaths of red white and blue or of cherub-cheeked children handing old soldiers bright red poppies of remembrance, wishing each other well and expressing gratitude that they knew one another. They all thought of life and death and how important it was to recognize the power of both.
Now, Memorial Day is a way to make a weekend three days long, to gather with friends to drink beer and grill out in the backyard. Stores have sales commemorating their burgeoning stock of furniture. People rummage around the back of the closet, looking for that dusty flag to replace the cheap "Welcome Spring!" banner currently posted in the flag holder. Come Tuesday, the dusty flag gets tossed back in the corner of a dark closet and a brand new, cheap "Welcome Summer!" banner goes up.
I'd like to 'go retro' this weekend. No, I'm not talking postcards or giving money to some guy on the corner in order to get a cheap fabric poppy. I'd like to remember our Veterans now in their seventies. Since our interval between wars seems shorter nowadays, please remember those in their fifties and sixties as well. Just because the weapons are easier to manage and maybe men weren't forced to sleep a dozen to a tent to keep from freezing to death, it doesn't mean that the personal loss of a loved one or a comrade or even an acquaintance is that much easier to bear. Or the sacrifice of those at home, wondering if that loved one was returning - I want to remember their selflessness too. I feel it's time to once more recognize the awesome power of both life and death, and remember those who had to face the loss of it without choice or regret, simply because they were proud to do their duty.
Thank you, Veterans. Your sacrifices are never trivial, even if our thoughts aren't always noble.
Posted by Elizabeth Haysmont