Memorial Day: Let’s Not Forget!

In honor of Memorial Day, I wore this red, white, and blue necklace. My sister Shelly made it for Mom, wife of a WWII vet. Among Mom’s belongings when she died, the necklace might not have seemed important, but to me it symbolized her love for our country.

Growing up in her house, I learned to be proud of our country, love its flag, and honor those who served and fought for our freedom. Even today, the moment our national anthem  starts, I can’t help but stand — at home alone or in a crowd — to sing along with my hand over my heart. A heart that almost bursts with pride for our United States of America — our land of the free and home of the brave..

So many memories spring to life on Memorial Day!

  • Family who sacrificed to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces — Dad and Jim’s dad (WWII, Army), Uncle Lee (WWII, Marines) Uncles Hank and Ed (Korean Conflict, Army) brother-in-law Larry (Vietnam, Army), and my son Rick (Navy).
  • Involvement in the American Legion Post in Kaukauna. Dad served a year as Commander, Mom as leader of the Legion Auxillary, and I as leader of the Junior Legion Auxillary.
  • Memorial Day meant Dad leaving early to blow TAPS at each cemetery as flags were placed on the graves of deceased vets. Later when the parade paused on the Lawe Street Bridge and the memorial wreath was cast into the Fox River, he played TAPS again. A solemn and beautiful moment in time.
  • One year I served as a poppy princess. Another year, as a teen, read “In Flanders Field” to the townspeople who gathered on the lawn of the VFW Hall for formal speeches.
  • The many years that my husband Jim and I took time to honor our country and its vets. Most times we joined the crowd outside the Social Services building, and every time the U.S. flag passed by, we’d place our hands over our hearts and stand at attention.

What fond memories spring to life for you on Memorial Day?

 

 

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Memorial Day Memories

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.

Memorial Day and Dad

Memorial Day was always a special event for my family. Early in the morning  I would watch my dad, a World War II veteran, leave the house in his American Legion blues with his bugle tucked under his arm. While the rest of the city prepared for the parade and other festivities, Dad and a few others made their faithful rounds. At each of our town’s cemeteries, they honored our U.S. servicemen by marking each grave with a small flag. At some point during the solemn ceremony that followed, my father raised his bugle to blow Taps.

By ten o’clock, the town turned out to watch the parade. The moment it had stretched out over the Lawe Street Bridge with my father and the honor guard at its center, it paused. The honor guard fired their guns to salute our war dead. Someone sent the memorial wreath sailing over the railing. As it hit the waters of the Fox River and began floating down stream, 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 by what is caught than  by 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 our Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. I learned to appreciate the sacrifices of those who risked their lives to keep it so. I learned to honor our flag that represents the high ideals of our United States of America. Yes, children learn a great deal by watching their fathers.

During his lifetime on earth, Jesus–the Son of God–watched his Father to know what to do and what not to do. Referring to himself, he once said, “The Son … does only what he sees the Father doing, and in the same way” (John 5:19, The Living Bible.

He also said that if his disciples knew him, they knew his Father. So we, too, can learn from God our Father. By reading his Word and observing how Jesus handled situations and relationships, we can discover how to do the same. With this valuable information, we can make wise decisions that not only honor God but give us the high quality lives and relationships we long for.

Christ’s remarkable life is our sure example of how to grow in wisdom, love, and right relationships. No wonder the writer of the book of Hebrews urges us to …

Focus: “Keep your eyes on Jesus, our leader and instructor” ~ Hebrews 12:2, The Living Bible.

How about you? Do you appreciate someone whose example inspires you?

(This blog post is adapted from a May 2000 piece published by Together in Faith in my ten-year column, Love With Shoes on.)