Monday, May 30, 2011


Tonight's musical toast:  "Please Remember Me" courtesy of Tim McGraw

In case you didn't notice, I've changed my blog look. If you truly didn't notice, I suggest a doctor appointment be made first thing in the morning!  It's summertime (although someone needs to let the "man upstairs" know, because in my state today, it snowed in the North and the South end dropped 20 degrees) and I wanted something bright and cheery - whimsical and fun like summer should be. May keep it, may not. Takes me three plus hours to redo a blog, so this may stick, at least for a few days. Give me your thoughts.

Today's Memorial Day. A day of reflection and remembrance. I grew up with it being called "Decoration Day." My grandmother was big on decorating the graves. It was one of her many "celebrations" when the family would pack the station wagons with picnics and children and head for the little cemetery located in the then tiny town of Midway, Utah. The cemetery sits on a hill, overlooking the valley. The roads were barely covered in asphalt, with chuck holes large enough to consume a Volkswagen bug.

Grandpa spent the day before Decoration Day cutting wire hangers for hooks and gathering empty mason jars. My grandmother and aunts stripped their lilac bushes (and maybe their neighbors after dark, too) and clipped all the irises, packing them in buckets of water, we children were in charge of keeping from sloshing all the way up Parley's Canyon. When we pulled away, there wasn't a blooming flower left in the yard.

Once at the cemetery, Grandma gathered the grandchildren, forming a hand chain (that lasted about ten minutes) and she took us on a field trip to each grave marker of relatives that had passed. She shared the stories of their lives, their family lineage, and any other juicy tidbits she could share to help us remember. My great-great-great grandmother was a Cherokee Indian and the stories my grandmother told of how she served as an ambassador to the tribes the pioneers encountered as they crossed the plains westward.

Now that I'm a couple of years older and wiser, I regret not recording my grandmother retelling the stories from those days on our personal graveyard tour. My own memory can only recall bits and pieces, and after my mother had her stroke, taking her voice, the stories have sadly been lost or confused. For this reason, my friends, "journal" your thoughts while you have them to pass on to those generations that will go on without you.

It's been years since I've been back to the little cemetery, but I try every year to place flowers on as many graves where I live now, as I have family members who have passed. Sadly, we have a few friends here who have died, but the rest are reserved for those gravesites where nothing sits in remembrance. If it's a government issued brass plaque with a military insignia, all the better...or sadder.

"Memorial Day" was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery. In 1971, Congress made it an official federal holiday, placing it officially on the last Monday in May.

I hate war, but I realize it's necessary. Unfortunately, it never seems to end, just changes countries and boundaries. The flag draped coffins never end, and families bid tearful goodbyes to their soldiers at airports, while other families bid goodbye at graveyards. My husband served in the National Guard. When my grandfather died, my daughter was small but stood beside us when the gunfire salute was sounded and the flag folded and handed to my aunt. She whispered to me, "When Daddy dies, does he get a flag?" A sobering thought. Yes, he will.

Three movies dealing with war have left an indelible mark in my memory, none of which I could watch a second time, but will never forget. Saving Private Ryan with Tom Hanks hit me because when it showed the troops meeting violent deaths when landing on the shores of France, I realized my daughter (the same from above) was living in France, two miles from Normandy Beach.

The Hurt Locker probably the most intense movie I've ever watched, drops you in the middle of the Iraqi War, with an elite three member Army bomb squad, walking the streets where anybody and anything is a potential bomb. Not even the street itself is safe (significant scene).

But the most moving war movie I've ever seen and challenge you to watch if you haven't, is Taking Chance, with Kevin Bacon. Maybe because it's based on true story or that my son was nineteen when it came out, that it settled inside my soul. You travel with a volunteer escort officer as he accompanies the body of nineteen year old fallen soldier on his trek across country to his hometown. You will be taken aback by the respect shown our soldiers in the smallest, unknown ways. At the end, you see the real solder, meet his real life friends portrayed by actors, and his family who lives on without him. A wonderful, heart wrenching story.

Okay, now my water works are malfunctioning. I love my country, my freedoms, and those who fight for me to keep it. My heart goes out to mothers and wives, especially, whose husbands, sons and daughters are away in service to our country, on my behalf. This is also the first time I've witnessed mothers leaving families behind when called to duty. Thank you.

Life goes on, but let's not forget or take a moment before this day comes to a close, to find some personal way to "reflect and remember."  Thanks for stopping by friends. Have a safe holiday. 

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