Friday, May 22, 2009
Another Memorial Day weekend. Stores will have sales, lots of burgers will be grilled, and some of us will visit the graves of loved ones who fought for their country.
You know, I hate war. I truly think that there are better ways of resolving conflict than to go to war. I never want my son to fight in a war—and honestly I don’t know too many mothers that do.
But all this being said I have the deepest respect for those who have served in the armed forces. When I was back in MN last week I visited my father’s grave and was reminded by the words on his headstone that he was a veteran. He fought in Korea. Technically it was not a war. There was no declaration of war—it was the “Korean Conflict”, but I think if you ask anyone who was there, they will tell you that it was a war. And it was hell.
Dad and I visited the Korean Memorial on the mall in the 1990s and he said it was really well designed because it was so near the airport. Every minute or so he’d hear another plane overhead and get startled again—“very experiential” he said. Looking at the life like images of the soldiers walking he was brought back in time. He told me it was so cold there. Many people think Korea is hot and sunny like Vietnam but it at a much higher latitude than that. While there we overheard a kid saying “what’s this Korean War thing?” My dad turned to him and said “didn’t you ever see *MASH?” Yep. That was my dad.
I remember a teenage boy in our neighborhood went off to Vietnam when I was a kid. He never came home. I remember thinking he was a real grown up—maybe 19 years old. In retrospect he was just a baby. How sad. I remember seeing his name engraved in the wall in Washington and I could just picture his mom. How do you really ever say goodbye?
I guess you just pay your respects. Here are some words from the original order that enshrined Memorial Day after the Civil war.
“Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.
If other eyes grow dull and other hinds slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.
Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains, and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledge to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon the Nation's gratitude—the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.”
Happy Memorial Day everybody. And thank you to all who have served. -Monica