Thursday, May 22, 2008

FanBoyWonder Salutes Our Veterans This Memorial Day Weekend

As FanBoyWonder crawls to the respite that is the three-day Memorial Day holiday weekend, we wanted to pay our respects to the servicemen and women—past and present—for whom the holiday was designed to honor.

But first a quick shout out to FanBoyWonder’s Cousin Alice and to her hubby Paul as they recently welcomed a new baby boy Henry into the multiverse—8 lbs., 15 ounces. We’re looking forward to meeting our….second cousin or nephew or some such…that is if we can ever manage a family reunion sometime before the young man goes off to college.

Anyway last Saturday FanBoyWonder got up early and made our way to our local Mount Olivet Cemetery, to take part in an annual tradition—the placing of an American Flag at the grave of each of the cemetery’s armed service veterans in honor of Memorial Day.

We don’t take credit for doing all of it all by ourselves, far from it. Mt. Olivet’s Memorial Day veteran grave flagging is organized and supported by the good people at American Legion Post #11 in Frederick, MD, We’re just honored to be allowed to participate with them.

We were a solo act this year at the cemetery as Mrs. Lovey Wonder wasn’t quite out from under the weather and Brianna The Girl Wonder—our little flagging helper of years past—was down South with her “parents.” But in just a couple weeks we’ll be seeing the Girl Wonder again when she visits—the first time we’ve seen her since before Thanksgiving. We miss her terribly and she can’t get here fast enough.

Meanwhile, back at the cemetery it was a bit of a handful for us to carry hammer and flags while trying to navigate our assigned sector with the map board. Yet we managed and in the end it was well worth the effort.

We find that there is an odd serenity at a cemetery in the early morning hours before the sun gets to hot and too high in the sky. We picked two different—if less populated—sections of the cemetery and went to work tracking down the final resting place of the veterans on our list—while finding some others who weren’t on the list. They each got the Stars and Stripes.

It was one of those rare moments that morning where time slowed and we felt unrushed as we planted an American Flag and briefly paid our silent respects at each gravestone.

Along the way we cleared dirt and grass and debris off of grave markers of veteran and non-veteran alike out of respect.

We would like to think that someone would do the same for us but we decided long ago that we won’t need a gravestone. When our time comes to pay the check, we plan to have our ashes scattered in a favorite place of ours on high.

In nearly every instance, each grave we flagged was of a veteran who—to judge by their birth and death dates—long outlived their time in uniform and (hopefully) lived a long and happy life.

The True Meaning of Memorial Day

Between the VFW members and the local troop of Boy Scouts and the players from the local minor league baseball team, as well as a few unaffiliated individuals like ourselves who came out on their own, it was a good turn out for grave flagging. Two hours a year is NOT a big sacrifice and we’re proud to be a part of this small token of gratitude to the men and women who served our country.

Yet this coming weekend in-between the barbecues and the summer movie blockbusters, we’re afraid that the true meaning of the Memorial Day holiday might become lost.

FanBoyWonder isn’t the only one or the first one to feel this concern. It was 10 years ago during our newspaper reporting days for a Massachusetts North Shore newspaper that we were honored to spend time with some veterans who introduced us to the grave flagging tradition.

Mr. H, a World War II veteran and Commander of the local VFW chapter, expressed his dismay back then both at the dwindling attendance of town’s annual Memorial Day parade and his fear that most children (and even their parents??) don’t understand the significance or the origin of Memorial Day.

“My concern is that people aren’t taking the day off to remember the veterans anymore. What do car sales and barbecues have to do with the veterans,” we quoted Mr. H in our 1998 news article. “I don’t want to cry about it, but I do believe if it weren’t for (servicemen), we would be living under a Japanese flag or a German flag.”

By way of background—Memorial Day was originally celebrated as Decoration Day following the Civil War. Intended to honor the memory of soldiers in the War Between the States, wives and widows of soldiers—both Union and Confederate—spent the day decorating the graves of war veterans with flags.

The holiday was observed on different days in the North and South until after World War I, when “Memorial Day” became the one day across the nation to honor veterans of all American wars.

While Mr. H and his peers expressed their concern back then, all was not bleak as we had all met and FBW conducted our interview at the local middle school following a Memorial Day assembly put on by students.

Mr. H took that as a hopeful sign. “I just hope it won’t take another war for people to be mindful of those who served their country.”

A quick Internet search tells us that Mr. H passed away two years ago at the age of 78. We hope that someone has respectfully planted the Stars and Stripes at his final resting place. Rest in peace sir.

For our part, FanBoyWonder has a batch of American flags left over from last week and during Brianna’s visit we’re going to continue our family tradition, if a little late, while teaching her about honor and respect and love of country.

By no means are we seeking to lookdown from some moral high-horse as we fully intend to sleep late, clean house and maybe even some leisure activity during this three-day weekend.

We are NOT suggesting that you spend all of your weekend in mourning. Yet we don’t think it’s too much to ask that you spend just a little time—a single solitary moment on Monday—remembering those few who served to the benefit of all of us.

God Bless America!


Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Hit Counters
Online Universities