Perhaps it’s nostalgia, or it’s the fact my birth certificate is starting to yellow, but it’s always nice to have a neighbor stop by the house and pat you on the back for serving in the U.S. military. My neighbor, a member of the U.S. Marine Corps knows a thing or two about combat on foreign soil, as do the troops we think of each day while they sacrifice themselves in places we only read about or watch on the evening news. My neighbor came by to wish me a Happy Memorial Day weekend moments ago on a day when we mourn the loss of those who have gone into harm’s way and not returned to their loved ones, including those we all lost during the attacks of 9/11. The handshake and offering from a fellow veteran, (who happened to catch me in the garage handling a load of laundry) truly hits home. Veterans almost always consider family their utmost priority and this conversation was no different. He was with his wife, some 8 months pregnant while we discussed the holiday which included the fact my oldest is home safe and sound from her European experience.
I am not one; at least not yet, who will be walking in a parade where veterans are honored and I’m not exactly sure why so before I start opining on who I am regarding my veteran status I’ll leave you with a short paragraph on the creation of Memorial Day and a poem penned by Alfred Joyce Kilmer.
Memorial Day was created by a Civil War hero, General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 30th, 1868. General Logan asked that people turn out on that day, every year, to decorate the graves of the dead with flowers.
– Alfred Joyce Kilmer
The bugle echoes shrill and sweet,
But not of war it sings to-day.
The road is rhythmic with the feet
Of men-at-arms who come to pray.
The roses blossom white and red
On tombs where weary soldiers lie;
Flags wave above the honored dead
And martial music cleaves the sky.
Above their wreath-strewn graves we kneel,
They kept the faith and fought the fight.
Through flying lead and crimson steel
They plunged for Freedom and the Right.
May we, their grateful children, learn
Their strength, who lie beneath this sod,
Who went through fire and death to earn
At last the accolade of God.
In shining rank on rank arrayed
They march, the legions of the Lord;
He is their Captain unafraid,
The Prince of Peace…Who brought a sword.