Today is Memorial Day, a day set aside to commemorate US men and women who died while in military service. It used to be called Decoration Day and was first enacted to honor Union soldiers of the Civil War. It was expanded after World War I to include American casualties of any military war or action. [via]
We of course, usually expand it's meaning. I don't mean we as in me - I mean the country - people - the general sentiment. We honor and revere those who were lost in this way, but we also honor those who served the country and are still with us (and also on Veteran's Day) and we generally remember those who have gone before us whether they were in the military or not. Many people go to the cemetery on Memorial Day to place flowers on the graves of their dearly departed. I remember doing this with my grandparents and my Aunt Betty and Patty a few times. I know we also have All Saints Day to remember those people, (and every day in our thoughts) but it seems Memorial Day conjures up remembrances all around.
So, today's post will cover the "larger" observance of the day. First, I want to share with you a piece of music that uses a poem I find so fitting for Memorial Day. It is not that old of a piece - it was written to be included in the ending credits of the movie We Were Soldiers where, when I heard it, I cried. It has quickly gained acceptance and use in the military community since it's writing. It was used as part of Ronald Reagan's funeral ceremony. It is called Mansions of the Lord.
Here are the words:
To fallen soldiers let us sing,
Where no rockets fly nor bullets wing,
Our broken brothers let us bring
To the Mansions of the Lord.
No more bleeding, no more fight,
No prayers pleading through the night,
Just divine embrace, eternal light
In the Mansions of the Lord.
Where no mothers cry and no children weep,
We will stand and guard though the angels sleep,
Oh through the ages safely keep
The Mansions of the Lord.
It is traditionally sung by a men's chorus, which makes it even that more meaningful, I think. Here are some links where you can hear/see performances of it:
A Recording from the We Were Soliders Soundtrack
(It moves on past this after about 2 mins)
NPR Recast from Ronald Reagan's Funeral
A Very Moving Photo Montage with Music
If you can watch this without a tear in your eye...
And, on a personal remembrance, on days like today, I remember many of my relatives and friends who have passed out of this world. But, I most often remember my grandparents, because they were so central in my life as a child. I tried to find some photos of all of them, but of course here in Texas I don't have access to the "family albums" that are in Indiana. So, I have a few to share, but not perhaps the ones I would share if I were choosing from all that exist.
This is an important note though - I know in this day of digital media, our future generations, if the media all survives in some format, will have more photos than they can possibly even process through. But, it is important to point out that you, no matter how much you hate getting your photo taken, that YOU should GET IN THE PICTURE, because someone someday will be glad to have that photo. So, get over what you look like or how you feel and take the photos with the people you love. Just think - you might look better today - certainly younger - than you will five years from now - and you'll look back on that photo and like it! I'll try to follow my own advice. Ahem.
Ok, so here are a few photos and remembrances of my grandparents.
First - Grandma Irene and Grandpa Frank - I realize I have NO PHOTOS of Grandpa Frank in my house. So, we will go with a few I found of Grandma Irene. And when I'm next in Indy I'm going to remedy that situation.
That's her on the left.
Grandpa Frank liked to fish. We weren't so big on fishing as kids because the way Grandpa Frank did it (and maybe the way everyone does it) there was just a lot of getting up early and sitting around to be done. Grandma would go with us though, and make it a lot of fun. Grandpa Frank used joke with us a lot. He used to "challenge" us to impossible tasks - like putting something in our mouth without bending our elbow. Stuff like that.
Grandma, Dad and Me
When I was in college on a trip to Florida to see Uncle Ray.
We used to write her letters and put as little on the address as possible to see if they'd get to her in her small town. She was "Box 2". So, we'd write "Grandma, Box 2, Waldron" and it'd get there. We even just wrote, "Grandma, Waldron" on one, and it got there. But, I think at that point the postmaster knew our handwriting. She was very good at writing us letters too. I cherish those letters.
Grandma liked Liberace. If he was on the TV, you better be quiet. And until I was older her house had no air conditioning. And even then, it was only in the living room. In Indiana, though, this was not so bad. A fan would make it pleasant. She had one phone, on the wall in the kitchen, and one bathroom, and her house had a cellar. When she re-did her front room, they found wallpaper that could be dated to the last part of the 19th century.
I was going to crop this up, but I like that you can see the house, so I left it.
Grandma was a great cook. She used a lot of bacon fat. She liked to eat the turkey gizzard. Her homemade noodles were to die for. And her peanut butter fudge. And, she loved for all her kids to go to church with her on Mother's Day. I loved Grandma Irene and Grandpa Frank and I'm so glad they were my grandparents, and I miss them.
Nana and Paw-Paw had a big yard with a lot of trees - and a lot of flowers. So, when you went to their house, you "helped" with the yardwork - watering or feeding the flowers or picking up sticks or nuts. And, sometimes, Paw-Paw would let you ride the mower with him or in the leaf collector behind the mower. Great fun.
So, not so recent.
I used to go with Paw-Paw to buy milk at Linder's Dairy, and while we were there he'd let me have an ice cream cone. I always got peach ice cream. It was so good. We'd sit there in the dairy and eat our ice cream together. When I rode in their big boat of a car, they let me sit on the "hump" in between them in the front seat. No one worried about that not being safe back then. I survived.
Paw-Paw would tickle you until you couldn't stand it any longer, and Nana would read books to you over and over. We were indulged as only grandparents can do. And they were great at it. I'm so glad they, too, were my grandparents. I loved them very much and I miss them.
So, on this Memorial Day, please take a moment to remember those who have lost their lives in defense of this great country, have served or are serving in our Armed Forces, and also remember those special to you. I know I will.
See you tomorrow.