When I was a child, my father, a World War II Vet celebrated Memorial Day by unfurling our flag and blaring patriotic marching band music throughout the neighborhood. I think he did this to encourage our neighbors to notice, and recognize the great sacrifices that had been made by his generation.
During this time, my sister and I were brimming with excitement, this weekend meant summer was upon us, the pool, our summer playground was open for business and the school year was coming to a close. In the early 80’s, we were not at war. We grew up in a time of peace and had the luxury of a carefree childhood. Memorial Day weekend seemed to be a time to celebrate life not a time to mourn our fallen service members.
Now, in 2013 this Memorial Day comes to me with great sadness for those friends we have lost and others whose lives have been changed forever due to debilitating injuries. Amidst my grief, I am equally awe struck and have feelings of deep gratitude and admiration for our fighting force. I can’t think of a more noble profession. .
On this Memorial Day, we are at war. I encourage you to stop and honor those brave souls that gave it all for our safety and freedom. Unfurl your flags, take part in a Memorial Day ceremony and if you are able, contact a family member of a fallen hero, let them know their loved one is not forgotten.
DC Memorial Day Festivities
NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT
Sunday, May 26, 2013, 8 p.m. Gates open at 5 p.m.
PBS sponsors a FREE concert with the National Symphony on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Televised.
NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY PARADE
Monday, May 27, 2013, beginning at 2 p.m.
The parade of Marching Bands and Veterans units from all 50 states steps off at the corner of Constitution Avenue and 7th Streets, NW and proceeds along Constitution Avenue, past the White House, ending at 17th Street.
ROLLING THUNDER MOTORCYCLE RALLY
Sunday, May 26, 2013. Departure from the Pentagon at 12 p.m. Speaker Program and Musical Tribute 1:30 p.m. at the Reflecting Pool across from The Lincoln Memorial. Best place to watch is on Memorial Bridge.
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Flags-In. The Old Guard will be joined by service members from the U.S. Marine Corps Ceremonial and Guard Company, U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard, U.S. Air Force Honor Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard in placing more than 250,000 grave decorating flags at Arlington National Cemetery. The flags will remain through Memorial Day.
Monday, May 27, 2013, 11 a.m. A wreath-laying ceremony and concert will be held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in honor of Memorial Day.
I’ll leave you with this poem written by Longfellow in the late 1800s right after the Civil War. He wrote this in recognition of “Decoration Day” which eventually evolved into the Memorial Day we celebrate today.
Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest
On this Field of the Grounded Arms,
Where foes no more molest,
Nor sentry’s shot alarms!
Ye have slept on the ground before,
And started to your feet
At the cannon’s sudden roar,
Or the drum’s redoubling beat.
But in this camp of Death
No sound your slumber breaks;
Here is no fevered breath,
No wound that bleeds and aches.
All is repose and peace,
Untrampled lies the sod;
The shouts of battle cease,
It is the Truce of God!
Rest, comrades, rest and sleep!
The thoughts of men shall be
As sentinels to keep
Your rest from danger free.
Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow