While I was growing up in Kaukauna, Memorial Day was always a special event. Early in the morning, my father–a WWII veteran–left the house in his American Legion blues with his bugle tucked under his arm. While the rest of the city prepared for the big parade, Dad and a few other vets made their faithful rounds at the cemeteries. Once they had marked each U.S. serviceman’s grave with a small flag and delivered a three-gun salute, Dad raised his bugle to play TAPS.
By ten o’clock, the entire town turned out either to march in or watch the parade.The moment it stretched over the Lawe Street Bridge with my father and the honor guard at its center, the parade paused. The honor guard fired their guns to salute our war dead. Then someone sent the memorial wreath sailing over the the railing. As it hit the waters of the Fox River and began floating downstream, my father lifted his bugle, and the clear, mournful notes of TAPS drifted out over the hushed crowd.
Someone rightly said that we learn more through what is caught than what is taught. By watching my father, not only on Memorial Day but each day of the year, I learned patriotism. I learned to love and appreciate our wonderful Land of the Free, those who risked their lives to keep it so, and our high-flying flag that proudly represents its ideals.
How about you? What Memorial Day memories do you carry in your heart? Please share. We can all use the inspiration.