Recently, people spent a long weekend boating, fishing, spending extended time at their cabins, or just plain relaxing.
Our family did that, too.
We had a couple of picnics grilling the traditional hot dogs, hamburgers, and, of course, potato tinfoil packets (potatoes, carrots, celery, slabs of butter, seasoning salt, chives, parsley, green peppers, oregano, basil, and anything else we wanted to throw in there).
But, we did not forget what the weekend is truly about remembering those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.
Memorial Day is about remembering those veterans who have passed on, and our loved ones, as well. We decorate their graves with flowers and pay respect to their lives lived.
Our family has a tradition. My twin brother and his family, my husband and I, and our children attend the local Memorial Day service, where a few of our children play patriotic music in the school band during the program.
We all have small flags that we hold as we listen to taps played by a trumpet soloist, the band selections, the Memorial Day address, and the opening and closing prayers, among the other important selections read.
We stop at the local gas station for our annual treat of ice cream or hot cocoa depending on which Memorial Day weather chooses to befriend us. Equipped with treats, flags, and our memories, we travel to a few cemeteries to pay respect to our loved ones who have passed away. And we share stories.
We share stories with our children of their grandparents, aunts, and uncles they have not met, but who are a part of their heritage. They know them through stories. We share stories of relatives who they know who have died.
Our children reminisce about memories of Grandma and her Saturday nights, devoted to watching “The Lawrence Welk Show.” They share stories of Grandpa’s laugh that shook his belly, narrowed his eyes, and widened his lips from ear to ear, but not a sound was heard. (His laugh reminded me so much of Johnny Carson.)
As Thomas Campbell said, “To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die.”
Sharing stories of our loved ones is how we keep them “alive.” They live on through stories shared.
Memorial Day needs to be honored. Our children need to know that Memorial Day dates back to the 1860s or so, when it was a day to remember those who died in the Civil War.
It has evolved, respectfully, into a day that we set aside to pay tribute to all the fallen veterans who have given up their lives for our freedom. We also pay respect to all of those serving currently. We should do this daily.
After our families have completed the cemetery visits, we head back to our home for an annual picnic. We continue to share stories, some with laughter, and, maybe, a few with tears. We share fun, food, laughter, and memories.
That is truly what Memorial Day is about. This Memorial Day was no different.
“The secret of happiness is freedom; the secret of freedom is courage.” Carrie Jones
Let us always remember the people who have ensured our freedom through their courage.