Monday, May 29, 2017



–––––– WHY MEMORIAL DAY? ––––––

Do you remember the parades? The high school marching bands, the Boy Scouts, the Cub Scouts, and the Brownies all neatly dressed in their uniforms and marching along, sometimes shyly, sometimes proudly, but more often just plain doggedly?

Do you remember the excitement getting ready for The Big Event? Everyone rushing around in the early A.M., mother making sure that everyone got breakfast –– you can’t march on an empty stomach, you know. Dad hanging out the flag on the front porch or from an upper storey window, slightly embarrassed, but privately grateful when Junior points out that it’s hung upside down. There’s just time to put it right before everyone has to be at the starting grounds for the big parade.

Little sister, too young to march, gets the best view, because she’s privileged to sit on Daddy’s shoulder. Later, she’ll shriek with wild delight to the wry amusement of all the parade goers, when she spots her big brother, the Eagle Scout, bearing the standard in front of the whole troop. He’ll turn beet red with self-consciousness when he hears her, and pretend not to notice, but secretly be pleased.

The veterans of two World Wars will march too. They are the real reason for this exciting event. The ancient ones from the First World War, some hobbling on crutches or walking stiffly with canes, wouldn’t miss the chance to march no matter how much effort it might be for them. Uniforms, which no longer fit very well, some even partially eaten by moths, have been dragged out of attics and basements once again to have their brass buttons polished in honor of the day. And there’s always an octogenarian or two who is so proud that his uniform still fits as well as it did in 1916. He will march with his still-handsome head held high, and with an energy that will put all the younger ones to shame.



Most of the dads are from the World War Two vintage. They have grown comfortably into middle age, grateful to be here in this land-of-the-free. The horrors of the war they studiously avoid discussing, or even thinking much about, except when an occasional nightmare disturbs their rest, or during those rare, quiet get-togethers with foxhole buddies who actually went through the same experience. At the VFW meetings they pretty much try to concentrate on having good times, and doing good works for the community.

If they seem a little too hearty and laugh a little too loudly, don’t let it bother you. The gave more than those of us left safely at home could possibly imagine –– much more than most of them could possibly even tell you about.

They too gave their all for a cause they believed just,
and as such deserve our respect and admiration.



And so, thy marched with pride, with gratitude, and with hope that future generations would not be called upon to make similar sacrifices, so that their families could continue to grow their gardens in peace, and march in future parades and enjoy picnicking with both gratitude and joy.

Later, after the parade, mothers, sisters and aunts would put on the most splendid outdoor feasts. Do you remember the huge bowls of luscious homemade potato salad redolent of onions, peppers, hard boiled eggs, Aunt Mary’s very special homemade mustard, and Hellmann’s Mayonnaise? Sometimes, they added bacon. Surely you must remember the hot dogs and hamburgers, or maybe some ribs and chicken all lovingly and exquisitely marinated with secret spices Dad used before cooking them over white hot charcoal? And all the things to fill it out like Aunt Vera’s carrot raisin slaw and Cousin Jane’s extra special good cucumber salad that even the kids loved to eat, and Mother’s homemade cheesebread –– to say nothing of all the cakes and pies and brownies and stuff.



One year Mother made a spectacular sheet cake that used blueberries and the brightest red strawberries strategically placed on her best white icing to represent the American Flag! The trouble was it didn’t taste near as good as it looked, so we never had it again.

"These wonderful things are the things
we remember all through our lives"

As a famous song says, “These wonderful things are the things we remember all through our lives.”

No one talked about Uncle Bob, who died in a Japanese prison camp less than a month before the war was over, or Cousin Eddie, who walks with a painful limp, because there was no way the surgeons could get all the shrapnel out of his knee.

No one talked about these sacrifices as we put on our innocent and prideful displays, thrilled at the realization that summer vacation was now in sight, and romped and teased and loved each other, –– but we knew.

Somehow, we were aware that all this was not happening just for “fun.” In those long ago days we were taught to be grateful. We were made aware that everything we do has consequences, and that everything –– good and bad –– must be paid for. There were no “free rides,” and no “free lunches,” either.

Sometimes, terrible things happen –– like Uncle Bob’s dying in that prison camp. [We found out later from two of his surviving buddies that they’d inserted slivers of bamboo under his fingernails and set them on fire –– among other things.]

But we didn’t dwell on stuff like that.

Uncle Bob had been a sweet-natured, happy-go-lucky man. He was the first to come pick you up and fetch the mercurochrome, if you fell off your bicycle, and he adored animals. He was always bringing home a little lost kitten or stray puppy much to Mother’s indulgent dismay.


Oh, we still miss Uncle Bob, even though he’s been gone for more than sixty years now, but we’ve always felt that he wanted us to be happy. That was why he went over there and got himself tortured and killed. So we have been happy, but we’ve kept Uncle Bob alive in the love we store in our memories of him, and our gratitude for his courage and sacrifice, and for the swell guy he was whom we were so lucky ever to have known at all.

Should we do less for all those other “Uncle Bobs” who gave their lives so that we might continue to enjoy our picnics?

~ FreeThinke - The Sandpiper - Spring, 1996



In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

~ Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (1872-1915)

John McCrae, Canadian physician, poet, author, artist, soldier





27 comments:

  1. Memorial Day should be a solemn day of commemoration. In my view, parades are appropriate, but such celebrations should not be "the whole ball of wax."

    Something that I found at Facebook yesterday resonates with me...

    On Memorial Day, keep this thought in mind: if you would not say "Congratulations" at a funeral, please do not say "Happy" before Memorial Day,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. " ... Oh, we still miss Uncle Bob, even though he’s been gone for more than sixty years now, but we’ve always felt that he wanted us to be happy. That was why he went over there and got himself tortured and killed. So we have been happy, but we’ve kept Uncle Bob alive in the love we store in our memories of him, and our gratitude for his courage and sacrifice, and for the swell guy he was whom we were so lucky ever to have known at all.

      }Should we do less for all those other “Uncle Bobs” who gave their lives so that we might continue to enjoy our picnics?"

      Delete
    2. FT,
      All the veterans I know do indeed celebrate today. But they also pause at 3:00 PM today to commemorate the fallen. This happens at the American Legion and VFW posts that Mr. AOW and I frequent.

      Delete
    3. Have you ever read John Adams' exhortation on how we might best spend the Fourth of July?

      I'm sure you would appreciate it very much.

      Delete
  2. Thanks FT, as a Vet myself I appreataie this post, very much. Jnlike your competitors the Progressive Lady.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Anthony, but we try never to speak ill of –– or even mention –– our detractors.

      WHY?

      Because getting sucked into endless exchanges of ill will and tirades of disapproval makes US play THEIR game, and then WE become too much like THEM –– nattering nabobs of negativism.

      Mentally ill people are more to be pitied than despised.

      Thanks again for your thanks.

      Delete
  3. An appropriate post on this solemn.

    Thanks...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't begin to tell you how glad I am that you approve.

      Delete
  4. It is important to pause and remember those who have sacrificed everything. It should help us re-center ourselves and humble ourselves.

    Since 9/11 I've come to believe that this is also a way of paying respect to the families of those who have fallen, that we acknowledge their pain and sacrifice, as well letting them know we shall not forget their loved ones and how they gave their lives in service to us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is why in my frequent condemnations of Abraham Lincoln I never fail to acknowledge the widows, the orphans, the destitute, the maimed, the blind, the chronically ill, and the insane –– the untold MILLIONS of American lives blighted and destroyed by Lincoln's War. And that includes everyone who fought, died and suffered on the CONFEDERATE side as well.

      Lincoln was responsible for the GRUESOME, largely necessary DEATHS of 635,000 men who died in battle –– or in places like Andersonville.

      Their tragically afflicted FAMILIES deserve every bit as much respect and veneration as thos fallen in battle.

      Frankly I feel the current fad for destroying Civil War Memorials throughout The South it is as HATEFUL and STUPID as it is OBSCENE.

      Delete
  5. A timely essay by John Kelly in today's WaPo.

    Excerpt from "A Blind Veteran's View of Memorial Day" (emphases mine):

    “I’ve lost brothers on the battlefield, specifically my buddy Tyler Trahan,” Brad [Snyder, a blind veteran] said. The two went to explosive ordnance disposal school together. Tyler was 22 when he was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2009.

    “Dealing with a loss like that is very difficult,” Brad said. “He was a good friend of mine. I miss him every day. I wish he was here. But I have to live in honor of him. I have to live a life he’d be proud of. And I have to make the most of every moment, because it’s a moment he didn’t have.

    “That goes for the hundreds of thousands of service members who have offered their lives in the name of this country.”

    Memorial Day, Brad said, “is a day to have fun and barbecue and enjoy the time you have with your family and friends. But know that you’re enjoying that in honor of someone who gave up that opportunity, to give it to you.”

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you FT for this, it sure brings back lots of good memories.
    And may I add to be grateful for all of your rights, and your freedoms and just remember it should never be taken for granted, as we have seen, in just a few years of the Liberal. Democrats, and the progressive socialists have been doing in the past eight years of their administration..
    And may God Bless our Troops and our Veterans, of the Past, the Present, and the Future, Our Fallen Heroes, Their Families, and Our President, And don’t forget to Thank them for their service

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, DD. I know that you too remember better days, and believe, as I do, we should learn to know and respect our heritage.

      Delete
  7. And Thank you to all who serve and have served. We think of you on this Memorial Day

    ReplyDelete
  8. Is every occasion an opportunity to belittle liberals? For some it seems the answer is yes.

    Please let us not EVER forget that both conservatives and liberals gave their lives so that we may be free.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Della Lugosi said

      That's true, but only the liberals deserved to die.

      Delete
  9. FT, your words paint an excellent picture of memorializing past events that had a lasting effect on the lives of a family that suffered the real effects of war. Times sure looked more innocent back then and people seemed more decent compared to our current population.

    Hopefully more people have come to recognize that a lot of what we thought we knew just isn't so. That we've been the victims of a deep educational campaign of propaganda that has advanced the state of global communism to the end stage where it is within reach of those that seek to enslave the world.

    Did all the wars of the previous century lead us to this? I'm thinking, yes.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Replies
    1. Thanks, Kid. I really put my heart into this one. I was very lucky to have grown up in Norman Rockwell's America. Life for us really was just as I described it. Sadly most of that sweetness and simple joy in living was snuffed out by the accursed Counter-Culture of the SICK-sties.

      Delete
  11. That was beautiful. Thank you. And God bless our fallen heroes, their families, our President, those currently serving, and our country that it be protected from enemies foreign and domestic.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Why do we have Memorial Days? To prevent a repeat of the mistakes of the past. Like the Spanish Civil War. Oooops!

    No wonder the Left HATES Memorial Day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The left hates everything

      Delete
    2. Love the "Why Memorial Day" story. I've been in the hospital since Sunday, hence my late appearance. I do remember the paradess and cookouts and all. I remember a wonderful Memorial weekend I spent playing at a biker 'resort' in PA... it's a bittersweet but lovely holiday.

      JMJ

      Delete
  13. Thank you FT for this, it sure brings back lots of good memories.
    And may I add to be grateful for all of your rights, and your freedoms and just remember it should never be taken for granted, as we have seen, in just a few years of the Liberal. Democrats.
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    ReplyDelete

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