Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day, 2011

When I think of Memorial Day, a few things usually come to mind. I remember going with my paternal grandma to the graveyards when I was a kid. She has always been keen on visiting the hundreds of graves of those she’s known. On at least two separate Memorial Day weekends she took me along with her. Now, some may think this would be boring or perhaps even morbid for a kid, but I did actually enjoy going along with her. I enjoyed it because my grandma would tell me all sorts of stories about the people whose graves we visited. I learned a lot about my family’s history that way. And I also really enjoyed all the unique places we’d go. You wouldn’t believe how many graveyards really are hid around the countryside. I remember us going to a few that only just had what could be called a road leading up to them. Some were in the woods, some were overgrown by thick bushes, some were on the hillsides, some within others’ property, and some were really kept up and so forth. Seeing so many of them, I’ve always kept in mind how easy it must be to become buried in a patch of weeds (it really is dependent on the caretaker, and whether or not anyone lives who does still care about the condition of the graves of those buried there). My grandma and I really did visit a great many of sites that were getting quite overtaken by nature. And that’s sad, really, to think about, because it means that a good portion of those who have been buried in such cemeteries have probably been forgotten; either their family and friends moved on, died off themselves, or just simply forgot about them. I find an unkept grave a very sad thing. Perhaps that is why I’ve often thought more favorably toward cremation (at least for myself).

Memorial Day also makes me think of my maternal grandpa, who died when I was around four. I don’t have many memories of him, but I do recall a couple with great fondness (I really do wish I could have known him better). I remember him on Memorial Day because my maternal grandma, mom, and aunt have always made sure to lay flowers on his grave on this day, and they always make a big to do about it. I also remember him because he was buried, and the first thought about having gone to the cemeteries with my paternal grandma as a kid always leads me to think of the cemetery where he is buried. And then, perhaps the biggest reason why I remember him on this day is because he was a soldier in World War II.

This leads me to my next thought about Memorial Day: the soldiers who have died in defense of our country. I’m not sure why, but I mostly want to reflect on WWII soldiers and the sacrifices they made during that war. It is probably only because I relate to that war having knowledge of my grandfather’s activities in it, but also because, I admit, I have played a great deal of WWII shooter video games. Because of those two things I just sort of automatically picture WWII troops whenever I think of soldiers (not to offend or belittle any other veterans—you’re all awesome).

After that, Memorial Day makes me recall all the holiday weekends when I worked on the lake. Good grief those could be busy weekends. We’d all work ourselves to death nearly. But they were good because it meant a lot of extra change in my pocket and I always managed to get a good tan that weekend to kick off the summer with. And, of course, I recall family trips and get-togethers as well.

I am glad we celebrate Memorial Day in this country. I know a lot of times people don’t often actually reflect on those who have died, but instead use this day only as a great time off. I don’t hold that against anyone, per se, because it is great to get some time off every now and then however you can get it. But I do wish more people would actually take at least some time to think back on those who have gone on. It only takes a little bit of time to actually reflect on past friends and family members, and I think it is especially befitting to at least take some amount of time on this holiday to say a quick prayer for and to thank all those who serve our country. After all, that is what this holiday was created for.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on this day. I hope everyone has had a good holiday, whatever you did.

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