Memorial Day - taking a moment to remember


When I was a child, Memorial Day signified the unofficial start of summer. It was the day my family packed a picnic, piled into the station wagon and drove to a nearby lake to see if the water was warm enough for swimming. We stuffed ourselves on hotdogs heaped high with relish, popped entire deviled eggs in our mouths and had seed spitting contests while crunching on the first watermelon of the year.

For most of my adult life, Memorial Day was just another one of the holidays printed on the American calendar hanging on my wall. Like the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and St. Patrick's Day, it passed largely unnoticed in whichever foreign country I was living at the time.

I'm saddened to admit that the same thing would have happened today had I not just been in Boston and seen the overwhelming number of American flags planted in the Boston Common. Intended to remind us of the real meaning of Memorial Day, each flag is a sobering reminder of the 33,000 men and women from Massachusetts who lost their lives in battle from the Civil War to the present.

33,000 is a staggering number.


Massachusetts is but one of fifty states.


Please take a moment to remember those Americans who gave their lives in the line of duty. 

"Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or the coming generations, that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of a free and undivided Republic." 
-General John A. Logan, Grand Army of the Republic, May 5, 1868

33,000 Memorial Day flags at the Boston Common

Comments

  1. wow.........thanks for the sobering reminder and awesome photos.

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    1. You're welcome. It was a moving experience to see the mass of flags from a distance and then realize that each one represents an individual life cut short before its time.

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  2. Nicely put. Quite by chance last night I had A Thin Red Line to watch, an elegiac, gorgeous film concerning the Second World War. Indeed, there have been many sacrifices, and we should remember that.

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    1. It's time that I watch A Thin Red Line again. Thanks for the reminder.

      As for sacrifices, I was stunned to hear the number of veterans (18) who commit suicide every day in the USA. It was during a segment on CNN featuring a company that was intent on hiring veterans.

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  3. Thank you, Mary Kay for another thoughtful post. My Father, a WWII Vet, always made sure to fly his flag in front of our house on Memorial Day and as a kid, I really didn't get why it was a big deal. When he passed in 2002, one of the first things my Brother and I did was take my Dad's flag to my home. Since then, including today, I proudly fly his flag to honor all who have served...including my Dad.

    There is a simple, moving, thoughtful HBO movie called "Taking Chance" about a career Marine escorting the remains of a fallen Marine home. I highly recommend giving it a view. It is a special, understated tribute to those who served.
    Dekage

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    1. Thanks for telling me about your father's WWII flag. Flying it in front of your house is a very special way to honor those who have served. It also reminded me that we used to fly my father's WWII flag on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. He didn't fight in the WWII because he was too young but served in Japan after the war was over. I think that one of my brothers still has his flag.

      Itunes has "Taking Chance" so I'm going to download it to watch with Stephane. It's the only movie that I've seen to receive such a high rating. 5 stars and 754 reviews. Thank you for telling me about it.

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  4. I also ran into this without looking for it, and it is indeed a sobering reminder that Memorial Day wasn't created just so we could have a day off.

    It's a very sad but beautiful tribute to the lost service members. It looks like a sea of flowers.

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    1. When I first saw all of the flags from a distance on Wednesday evening, I also thought that they were flowers. For some reason, the red and blue flags appeared pink until I got closer to them.

      Seeing 33,000 flags juxtaposed against people enjoying themselves in the Boston Common really brought home the meaning of Memorial Day for me. Weddings, babies in strollers, kids riding the merry-go-round - we would all have different lives if not for the sacrifice of others.

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  5. Thank you for this, Mary Kay. My grandfather was a surgeon in the Navy, as a result my mother grew up all over the place and is fiercely patriotic (as well as critical of our country). Growing up in NY I always scoffed at her flag raising, John Philip Sousa and general patriotism, but slowly the longer I live abroad the more such points hit home, and the more the country means to me.

    Your post is touching. And 18 suicides a day is heart-breaking.

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