Memorial Day 2002
by James Glaser
Every year Memorial Day is hard on me. Five times I have to listen to "Taps," once at each cemetery our VFW Post has a ceremony at. The sound of taps, no matter how many times I hear it, brings a wave of emotion over me.
At each service the names of the veterans that are buried at that particular cemetery are spoken, the rifle salute is given, and then "taps" are played. Also each year we pick a different vet and a wreath is laid on his or her grave.
Veterans from my past always come to mind, my father, his brothers, and his friends. I also think of men from when I was in Vietnam, some I knew and others were just a short ceremony with the sounds of distant artillery, some not so distant, where we would have the upside down rifle with its bayonet buried in the ground, with their helmet on the rifle. A fast service as one did not want to dwell on death in a war zone.
When you come home from a war it takes a few years before you are willing to let thoughts of those that died come out, you can't stop it and Memorial Day is the day that our nation has set aside for that purpose.
As kids, we would spend the day with our family, going to the lake or a picnic on Memorial Day weekend, but on Memorial Day everything stopped. On that morning, time was set aside for us to become part of the community and in this short piece of time we were to reflect as a family and as a community on the sacrifice that veterans made for us. This sacrifice was made so we could have that day at the lake or that family picnic, or just the freedom to take off.
My parents made sure that we kids took part in any Memorial Day doings. It not only brought us closer together as a family, but taught us that we were part of this great country. Being part of this country had some responsibilities that went with it, one of them was honoring our history and the people that made that history.
Now it is 2002 and no longer is it fashionable to do the "veteran thing" on Memorial Day. Less and less people come out to our local services. Mostly it is the older people, people that lost someone in a war and have their own remembrances to make. Sure it is a big sales day for retailers and families still go to the lake or picnic, but fewer now know who gave them that freedom.
I can't fault anyone who decides that remembering those who sacrificed so much is not important or that it is not important to instill traditions and a sense of belonging to the community in their children. I can't fault them because that is why veterans fought for our country. So that Americans would have the freedom to run their lives and families the way they thought was best.
I do think that someday that freedom will be lost if we forget what it took to buy that freedom and keep it.
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