Saints and Heroes
Folding the US Flag
Memorial Day

Spring is here (sort of) and soon to be here is summer - and with these much-awaited Seasons, come the glorious holidays that are part of summer celebrations.

Memorial Day Salute

I look so forward to these holidays, though I do not consider Memorial Day a day to go out and party.

According to the World Book Encyclopedia “Memorial Day, also called Decoration Day, is a patriotic holiday in the United States. It is a day to honor Americans who gave their lives for their country”.

As a child, I recall it was a somber day at our house. The end of the school year was near, and we kids were chomping at the bit, eager for summer vacation. The Sisters who taught us at St. Thecla School, taught us to remember our soldiers and think about what these men and women gave up for their country - families who were without fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, uncles, cousins and so on.

I grew up on the Northwest side of Chicago, right near the borderline of the town of Niles and the city, about two blocks south of St. Adalbert’s cemetery. My grandfather, a WWI veteran would take me to the cemetery on Memorial Day. There, a ceremony complete with Twenty-One Gun salute took place about 10:00 a.m. It was a serious day.

Memorial Day Prayers

My grandpa (he with his shrapnel-filled legs) and I would stand and watch the ceremony, and I would watch the tears roll down his cheeks. It was not a day of partying, boating, etc. that was something “other people” did. I distinctly recall, that there were many who would travel to St. Adalbert’s from various areas of the city (and beyond) by car, by bus and walking, packing a picnic lunch to be eaten after the ceremony and decorating gravesites before heading home.
Flowers and flags were placed with honor on graves of their beloved heroes.
The crowd observed the somber soldiers and Veterans, while “Taps” was played, hands over hearts, hats off, and singing “The Star Spangled Banner”.
The echoing booms of the salute shattered the air with “bullets” that fired our hearts with remembrance of lives lost and appreciation.

This was Remembrance Day, Decoration Day.
Memorial Day Flag

These sights and sounds branded a memory on the tender part of my mind, an impression like a hand print in wet cement, hardening forever the values of patriotism, love of country, respect.

Today finds many Americans celebrating Memorial Day as the “beginning” of the summer season, a day to relax, and a weekend to get away. The Memorial Day Sales are now of other paraphernalia of life, not only flags and wreaths to place on graves.

Today also finds the United States in wartime. We find our fellow Americans on foreign soil, dying while serving their country, preserving freedom, freedom to go out in our cars and boats, freedom to fly “friendly”skies, freedom to enjoy a holiday that has been observed in the United States since Civil War times.

This coming Memorial Day is a special day in my home. My twin daughters will turn the magic age of thirteen. They informed me they have to attend a Memorial Day ceremony at school on their birthday, as they are band members. I will tell them what an honor it is, on their birthday's to participate in helping people in our community give tribute to so many. We will talk about our soldiers overseas who are celebrating their birthdays in a much different way, and some who may be celebrating their birth into Heaven this very day, far away from home and family. We will leave the ceremony more thoughtful, more considerate, and more respectful of our fellow man.

I hope this Memorial Day will imprint on their minds how fortunate we are to be Americans, and how very dear the cost of freedom is.
 

Memorial Day Prices by Karen A. Lech.
Music " In A Mothers Eyes " from Andrew Dean.


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