today is memorial day. this is how we spent today:
our town has a parade and memorial service for memorial day, with various veteran organizations, fire trucks, the high school marching band and JROTC. every year we take the children to the parade not so much for entertainment, but to pay our respects. this year there were maybe a handful of families on hand to watch the parade. perhaps there were more people on the route and at the cemetery (we were at the beginning, by the playground.) i felt sad that there weren't more people out in support.
when i was in high school our marching band participated in 4 parades and services over the memorial day weekend. the first one was sunday in my home town, next to the community pool. it was always hotter than blazes that day and inevitably someone would pass out (we wore our "summer" uniform which consisted of wool pants and long sleeved cotton "pirate" shirt - no namby-pamby khakis or polo shirts for us. this was also before the era of disposable water bottles so there was usually little available for quenching thirst). the next morning we would start the day with a parade and service in next community, followed an hour later at the community next to that, finishing with the final service at the village north of town, where we marched up a hill to the cemetery. we'd finish around noontime feeling sweaty, tired and having the services' message all but memorized (they used the same speaker at all three services). by senior year you could almost rattle off the names of the deceased. the three services have since been combined into one at the community center. at the time i loathed memorial day weekend becos of those services, but now i have a better appreciation of them, and what they mean.
our country has been at war for a better part of a decade. sadly, we've added more fallen soldiers to the rolls since my days in marching band. i personally do not know anyone who died in combat, but i have acquaintances who have lost spouses and friends. growing up, war felt so old - we'd heard of war world II and the vietnam war was a vague memory. every day we hear about another loss or learn about someone being deployed on another tour, and my heart drops each time.
it's important for us to show our children what memorial day stands for. we want the kids to learn and show respect to those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. some day my kids may march in a parade as part of a band, or maybe for scouts or JROTC. i hope when that time comes they remember our times at the parades, and what the day really means.