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Party, but also pause and reflect

Submitted by on Friday, 22 May 2009 No Comment

My inbox is a strange place, which is why at times I’ll find a cupcake recipe next to a CNet review on the best earbuds for under $100 – $100 for earbuds? Stunning.

One day this week, an email announcing a Memorial Day kitchenware sale quickly followed a newsletter about the best holiday bashes. In between was a press release in which Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen to take a moment of silence Monday to remember fallen comrades.

They’re not likely to forget. How could they when they’re surrounded by the realities day in, day out.

Far too many of the rest of us, though, aren’t likely to remember. Far too often, Memorial Day is just another one of those three-day weekends, the beginning of summer fun.

It wasn’t like that when I was a kid. At least not for our family, which was dragged every Memorial Day weekend to the cemetery to decorate graves and to remember.

The memories got a little tedious for us kids after a while, because we heard the same stories every year. The woman who died of an infection after a toddler accidentally scratched her lip with a fingernail. The mother who left six children and a husband. The boy who fell to polio. The baby whose grave for many years didn’t have a marker. That one got me even back then.

As soon I was old enough, though, I became skilled at talking my way out of the annual trek up the hill to the dank, smelly place where we’d hear the same old stories. Again.

I didn’t understand it, the need to revisit a place where you’ll put yourself in pain.

I still don’t understand the second part. Other cultures handle it differently. People will pack huge picnics for their cemetery treks, occassionally even including a bottle of fine whiskey to share with the departed.

But I do understand the need, the near obligation, to remember and honor.

That’s what I’ll do Monday at 3 p.m.

I’ll remember a grandfather who served as a sailor in the Pacific during World War II. I’ll honor a grandfather-in-law I never met – he lost his life in a different theater  in that same war.

I’ll honor the thousands who have died in the current wars, none of whom I’ve met but many whose stories are familiar.

What are your plans for 3 Monday afternoon?

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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