I have visited my father.
Memorial Day seemed like an appropriate time. I didn’t realize until just recently that the holiday is intended to honor those who died in military service. Ray J. made it back from combat in the Pacific, but I suppose a cemetery visit is still allowable even though he died long after the end of World War II.
There are more than a few folks, I imagine, who simply recognize Memorial Day as the kickoff of the warmer weather of summer.
In an online op-ed column, John F. Sweeney points out that there is more to the long weekend than festivals, camping, and cookouts:
…the real purpose of Memorial Day is to remember the sacrifices of the men and women who gave their lives in service to our country. The origins of this holiday stretch back to the years following the Civil War, when local townspeople would plant flowers and decorate the graves of soldiers who had died in those battles. Ultimately, the U.S. government standardized the date and, over the years, the tradition expanded to honor soldiers lost in subsequent wars.
I thought it was a general, across-the-board observance for remembering those folks who were important in our lives but are no longer with us. Not meaning to detract from veterans and those who were lost in action – I was just confused. All those little American flags dotting the cemetery make a lot more sense now.
My grandmother had the Blue Stars displayed in her window, a red-bordered banner with a star for my father and another for my uncle – both of whom returned safely. The families who made the ultimate sacrifice were those displaying a Gold Star banner. I don’t know if the tradition continues, but I still have Grandma’s banner on the wall near the checkout counter.
I suppose Grandpa was over the age limit for service in the Second World War, but I ran across his registration paperwork where he listed himself as available. He was 45 when he filled out the form in 1942. (A little sobering to consider the fact that my grandparents were born in the 1800s. Suddenly, that seems like a long, long, time ago – more so than it used to.)
In the image you can see that he lists himself as self-employed: operating the Palace News in Parsons, Kansas. When I’m high atop the ladder changing a light bulb, I think of Grandpa Ray (who fell from his ladder while performing the same chore and broke something… he recovered and went on to change many more bulbs.).
Since our family has no one that fits the requirements for Memorial Day observance, I’ll dedicate this small remembrance to those of you whose lives were changed and to those who made such a sacrifice in serving the country. And – to the rest of us indebted to those veterans – have a safe and happy holiday.
The bookstore and bistro will be closed Monday, but I hope you’ll visit later in the week!
Booksellers & Irish Bistro
122 South Main Street
Broken Arrow, OK 74012