Both are photos I took while we were in Washington DC.
This is what today is about.
It’s about remembering the men and women who never made it out of uniform. Who fought for this country – and only returned home for their own funeral.
This is the reality of war. This is the reality that people forget – and keep forgetting as people threaten the use of force as a solution to our world problems. These are the casualties. And while we have had wars with higher death rates, anyone who dies should be honored regardless of size and reach of the conflict they fought.
I would also add that we should take this time to honor those who came home alive but could not continue to live. While we look at war casualties as those killed on the battle field, I think we need to also acknowledge that many come home so damaged that they chose suicide over living. They too should be remembered.
When I was growing up, Memorial Day was a 3-day weekend but it was also one that included ritual. We would march in parades – me as girl scout, my brother as a boy scout, my dad as a military member. We would march to the cemetery where music would play and the names of those who passed would be read. A dedication would commence – dedication of flags to the avenue of flags. These flags were from the funerals of the veterans that passed over the past year. Their flags were being raised and flown in honor of Memorial Day and other patriotic holidays. So the names were read, their flags were walked past, and people would honor their service. Somewhere is a photo of my brothers and me with my grandpa’s flag. Today it still flies. We would walk through the cemetery and look for his flag.
During the service, this would always be read – it represents Memorial Day for me:
In Flanders Fields
John McCrae, 1872 – 1918
In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place, and in the sky, The larks, still bravely singing, fly, Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the dead; short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe! To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high! If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.