My first thought this month was to blog on my experiences with Windows 10 (basically good experiences despite what I’ve heard about the program). Then I realized this blog would appear on Memorial Day weekend. That brought patriotism to mind.
Memorial Day was a big deal when I was growing up. I was in the band in my grade school, first honor guard (I carried the gun alongside the flag) and later as drum majorette. To this day I don’t know how that happened. I still can’t tell right from left and in giving directions, I’m apt to say, “Turn that way.” And if that doesn’t work, “Make a driver.” It’s sad, but those who know me well will turn left simply because I told them to turn right. I blame the nuns. I think they made me a righty when I was a natural lefty. Left, as you may know, is sinister in Latin. Now that would stop any self-respecting veil wearing, habit enrobed person in their tracks!
Still, despite my handicap, I was proud to march in my small town parade every Memorial Day. The town was a mile deep and a half mile wide. We marched from our school through the center of town to Memorial Park. Older students made floats on flatbeds dragged behind tractors or pickups. Real floats. I can remember a papier mache ship depicting the sacrifice of the Sullivan brothers in WWII. And there was the year the high school decided to depict the surrender at Appomattox complete with a life-sized papier mache Traveler. My brother’s role was to hold the horse’s head. Of course the horse wasn’t going anyplace. Or maybe it was, hard to say how stable it might have been. The Memorial Day parade was the last of the year for the band, unless we got invited to perform at a 4th of July parade, which sometimes happened.The most memorable part of the celebration for me was the veterans’ parade. As a young child we had vets from WWI right on up to the then current Viet Nam War. In my heart I knew it was more important to salute them than to scarf the free hotdogs. And I knew that by saluting them, we were really honoring all of those warriors who had not come back to march in their hometown parades. Nothing brought this home to me more than the year I was selected to place the wreath on our veteran’s memorial.
An old man stepped out of the crowd to assist me. He tottered on a cane and he wore the uniform of a United States Marine. The entire event was unscripted. He stepped up, saluted the flag, then he took my arm and led me to the memorial. Together we placed the wreath at the base of the marble column. I thought he stumbled when he half knelt at the foot of the monument and let his fingers rest on a name. Before I could react with all of my Girl Scout first aid, he stood, turned, snapped to attention and saluted me. Tears were pouring down his face.
The man was Mr. Treple. He had served proudly in WWI as a Marine—the uniform still fit him—sort of. He’d lost his only son, also a Marine, to WWII. His boy child buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in Europe then still listed as missing in action and presumed dead. We all knew Mr. Treple, and we knew his wife had died that spring, just before Easter. Mr. Treple followed her before the fall.
Freedom isn’t free. Semper fi.
That’s my Memorial Day memory. What’s yours?