Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A memorable Memorial Day

Yesterday was a different kind of Memorial Day for me. Not because I didn't observe the day for what it truly is, but because I did. I'm ashamed to admit that, despite my intentions year after year, I simply chose to stay home rather than attending a Memorial Day event. First of all, I'm not a fan of parades. I'm just not. But there's no excuse for skipping the locally held events each year. Seriously -- how much of a sacrifice is it to spend an hour honoring those who died for my country? Look at the sacrifice made by them and their families. Like I said, I'm ashamed.

Yesterday was different, however. Why? Because my beautiful little five-year-old granddaughter was joining others in her preschool to sing "God Bless America" at the event at Richland Township Community Park. I couldn't miss that, right? 

Laura spent the night with us on Sunday, so I was responsible for getting her ready for her "performance." I even French-braided her hair and got her there on time! I was proud of myself for that at least.

On Sunday evening, Laura went with my husband to the cemetery to plant flowers on five graves. She was a huge help to her grandpap as designated water girl, running back and forth from the spigot with water for the freshly planted geraniums. While there, Grandpap spent time teaching Laura about the significance of the day and about the people she never knew who were buried there. I, too, spent time with her on Sunday teaching her about wars and the brave men and women who fought in them, dying so we can be free. She must have grasped a bit of what we taught her because on Monday, at the ceremony, she listened intently to the keynote speaker and the others who shared messages of what the day has come to mean to so many. 

As we were leaving, she watched as I thanked a Korean war hero. Then she approached him, held out her hand and shook his as she, too, thanked him.

With tears in my eyes, I captured a mental image of that moment, which will be forever etched in my mind. It is a treasure. A treasure, indeed. 

As we lose more and more of those who served in WWII and the Korean War, let's not lose the opportunity to say thank you and to teach our children and grandchildren about these amazing people who were willing to sacrifice all for our freedom. No, Memorial Day is not about them, because they were the lucky ones who made it home. But someday soon, they will be in flag-decorated graves and it will be too late to express our gratitude. How blessed are we, who live in the United States of America, to have been served by generations of bravery? Let us never forget it.

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