The long holiday weekend ahead is summer’s unofficial kickoff, but Memorial Day is actually a somber occasion to honor those who served their country.
We proudly hang the colors. Gather with neighbors for a block party, where everyone brings their fave summer dish for feast we look forward to all year. We’re thankful for living in a place where we can enjoy sharing, friendship, food, and laughter.
And I remember.
My dad and most of my uncles saw combat during WWII, from tanks in France to boots on the ground with Marines in Iwo Jima. Uncle Bruce never talked about his days holed down in his tank or what he experienced in the European campaign. But he could never keep a job outside familiar work on grandma's farm. He was always gentle with us, but Mama's brother became anxious and left the room whenever we kids approached even the slightest degree of normal kid mayhem. No one of this earth can confirm it, but with the hindsight of an adult and 21st-century research, I believe he suffered from PTSD.
Dad's brother, our Uncle Nick, a sweet red-haired former Marine, loved teasing and playing with us. But I remember sitting on Grandma's porch with him and listening to fireworks one July Fourth. "I can't stand that noise," he told me. To him, fireworks that delighted us sounded like the killing fields of battle.
Our favorite WWII sailor saw action in the South Pacific aboard the USS Elmore. We are blessed Dad still talks with us about those times today at 92 years young.
Enlisting at age 18, Dad maintains he was fortunate to have returned when so many did not.
"We just received orders to engage the Japanese fleet and were sailing there when we got word the bomb dropped on Hiroshima," he recalls. "It was a terrible thing, but for us, it meant the end of our fight."
I never know how to greet people on this Monday holiday. I feel silly wishing them a "happy" Memorial Day. "Happy" isn't the right word to describe this reverent occasion.
So, safe travels if you're on the road this long holiday weekend. Enjoy your cookouts, bike rides and extra time to sleep on Monday morning.
But let’s also take a moment to reflect and give thanks for those who sacrificed, so we can enjoy our freedom today.
From my front porch, the heart of our home, to you and yours....
Wishing you a Memorial Day weekend of peace and all good things.
War Memorial: Flight of Honor 2015 May
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