Memorial Day–Not About Loss

Bethanie and I preparing for Memorial Day

Bethanie and I preparing for Memorial Day some forty years ago.

“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.”

L. M. Montgomery

For me, Memorial Day is always a day of reflection and tradition. Unfortunately, one tradition has been lost because of distance. And yet it has not been lost because of memory.

Some of my most vivid childhood memories center on this day. I remember multiple trips to the cemetery with my father. We would retrieve the flag holder from his father’s grave for wire brushing and a fresh coat of paint before the new flags were placed. I felt a special sense of pride that Grandfather had two flags–British and American, although I didn’t fully understand why.

Of course there was grass to trim and flowers to plant. We also had to go to the Legion Hall because there were rifles to clean and ready. Dad led the honor guard and he strove for perfection. To this day, I long to hear “one shot” when the volley is fired. After all these years, I consider myself fortunate that I can still remember those days when the whole town turned out to follow the parade. I wish we still did that.

I was seven when my Dad was laid to rest next to his father. When old enough I accepted the responsibility for maintaining the family plot. For a while I was able to share it with my daughter Bethanie. Time has passed. Life has happened. And while I miss actually making those preparations I am pleased they are not lost.

Today is a day for remembering and there is much to remember. I’ll be at our town parade. Most of these parades get a little shorter every year. The news reports that one town in Massachusetts will not have a parade, “There aren’t enough veterans.” But in my mind I’ll see an endless line of veterans marching. They are not lost. I’ll probably get a lump in my throat when taps are played.  But I’ll smile when I remember that the term “taps”   originates from the Dutch term taptoe, meaning “close the beer taps and send the troops back to camp.”

Remembering and reflecting does not have to be about loss. “Nothing is ever really lost as long as we remember it.”

Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.
Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near
Falls the night.
Thanks and praise for our days
Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky
As we go, this we know
God is nigh.

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Filed under Maine Life, Personal Growth

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