The little town where I live has a Memorial Day parade every year at 9 o’clock in the morning. When I first moved here, I would roll out of bed, get dressed and walk up the street to watch. It was a very small parade, with just a few aging veterans riding in convertibles and almost no one marching. And the crowd watching was thin, not enough to line the sidewalks. In the last few years the parades have included marching Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, so at least the parents help bolster the crowd.
For most of us Memorial Day weekend has become the beginning of the summer season. Any links to World War II or more recent wars seem increasingly tenuous, or degenerate into flag-waving and pompous speeches.
So today I’d like to shift the emphasis back to people–people who gave their lives in military service, primarily, since this is Memorial Day. But also people who served in wars and came home safely or forever marked by their experience, people who served when there wasn’t a war, people who stayed behind and worked and worried, people who spoke up when they thought something was wrong. People who mattered then, and matter now.
And I’m making a shout-out to veterans in my family. One of my brothers-in-law served in the Navy during the Korean war. Another was a career Army officer and did two tours of Vietnam. My brother was in the Air Force during the Vietnam era and did not see combat. They came home safely, and I am glad. There are many things on which we don’t agree, but we agree that we love our country and we love our family. Happy Memorial Day.