Often referred to as an unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day weekend is much more than that. It is the time for remembering the ones who died while serving in our country's armed forces. Personally, I have no family members that indeed gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. My bother, sister and I never served. No family member from Kath’s side ever served. The closest I can come is honoring and remembering that my father served in WWII.
For years we used a different definition for Memorial Day. Kath’s father died very near Memorial Day. During the ensuing years, along with her brother John, we would observe his passing by attending to his grave. John and Kath would clean up the previous year’s flowers and plant new ones. I filled the watering can. About 8 years later Kath's mother passed away and was laid rest next to her husband. We continued the tradition of tending their graves over Memorial Day weekend. While cleaning, clearing and planting, daughter and son talk about their parents. Remembering them. Every few years Memorial Day falls upon the day of their father’s passing. That always makes it hard on them.
A new life’s chapter or phase has opened up for me having lost a parent to time. I pay my respects to dad when I can but especially on Memorial Day. Not only to simply remember him, but to thank him for his service to our country. Because of his service, I'm allowed to do what I want on this day and all days to come. I also remember and thank him for helping raising my bother, sister and myself. I’m sure we were quite a handful. I know he did the best he could, the best he knew how to. Because of this we turned out just fine, able to find our way of in the world.
By Memorial Day weekend a long and hard winter season has finally melted away. In Michigan most people head north over this extended weekend. For some travelers this will be the first time seeing their summer cabin since closing it down last autumn. Inspecting for any winter damage. Cutting grass, trimming brush, turning on power and water. Opening winders and doors letting in much needed fresh air and sun. Putting docks in, launching all manner of watercraft. For other travelers who had been taking weekend trips in order to get their cabin ready for summer, this weekend is the pay off. Busy days of swimming, sun tanning and fishing lay ahead. The remaining travelers simply go camping with either a camping trailer or by pitching a tent.
For our Memorial Day itself, Kath and I don't have much to do, having visited our loved the one’s final resting places earlier in the weekend. So Kath and I tend our yard, gardens and home. We chose to simply stay close to home.
It does not matter what is done or how it is done to remember the ones that have left our lives, as long as we do it. It does not matter the reason why they are gone, it is that they are remembered. Remembered for their selfless sacrifices. Remembered for preserving and protecting the freedoms bestowed upon them and then passing those freedoms on to us. Giving them the thanks and recognition deserved for all they accomplished is a very fitting tribute and memorial. Knowing full well our debt to them can never be repaid.
Doug Thornhill (dct)