I remember, growing up, that Memorial Day was a very special day. I grew up in the Air Force – we traveled all over the place, so I had no place to really call HOME except my mother’s home-town. That was where my closest relatives lived and we even lived there for a year when my dad was overseas and we weren’t. So nearly every year we were in a different town on that day.
But Memorial Day brings memories of lilacs drooping over the sidewalks and putting my senses into heaven. Was it warmer then? I can’t remember many rainy Memorial Days – they were all sunny and hot.
School was nearly over – always we took that day off because we had one or two more days left; the school board required you to return to school after the 30th to receive your report cards. It wasn’t commonly known that the report card could be MAILED if you didn’t come back – missing the last day of school was as big a sin as missing Christmas Eve services or Easter Morning services. It just wasn’t DONE in my society!
For half a month, school was torture! We would sit with the windows open, smelling the lilacs, wishing we were OUTSIDE … the schools would heat up (no air conditioning to soften the students) to almost unbearable heat, the sun would shine in and students would have a hard time paying attention or even keeping awake.
Then, finally, Memorial Day! The day to not go to school! There were picnics, parades, ceremonies and visits to the cemeteries. Since the towns were not OUR towns, my family rarely went to cemeteries except the year we lived in my mom’s hometown.
That year in "our" home town, after the parade (very small – it was a town of about a thousand people), my family went to the cemetery to lay flowers on my grandfather’s grave. My Nana talked about Grandpa (he died when Mom was 14) and also about Baby Sister. The baby was less than a year old when she died, in the 1920s, making Mom the “baby” once again. She also got flowers. Nana remembered her often – as would I if one of my children died – and often talked about her, as well.
Then back to Auntie Pete’s house (Uncle Hooky and family lived on the family farm and came in for the day; Auntie Pete and Uncle Goosey lived in town) for a picnic in the yard. Again, with those blessed lilacs all over the place. The older towns seem to be swamped with lilacs on every street.
The sun was always shining; it was always hot and breezy. No rain, no strong winds. We cousins would gather in a corner of the yard after eating and play games of some kind while the adults sat at the picnic tables and talked.
However, no matter how much family time, we always remembered what DAY it was … a day to honor the “glorious” dead – not just the family members that had passed, but the soldiers that had given their lives for love of Country and Freedom.
Perhaps I feel this is a more important day because of being raised in the armed forces or just because I have gotten old and live more in memories than in the present. But whatever the reason, this is a special day for me.
And it will be a beautiful one. You have a beautiful Memorial Day!
(Disclaimer - this is NOT my picture - I found it on the web!)