Last night in bed, sated after a day of picnicking and socializing on this holiday weekend, I thought about Memorial Day and what it’s supposed to mean.
Inevitably, my mind turned toward my father and the last time I truly commemorated Memorial Day by visiting his grave.
This led to my litany of those I will hold in my memory forever.
Some, like Dad, I loved or considered a friend.
My mother-in-law Viv
My friends Pat Carterette and Dale Hood
Others I knew only by association.
My co-worker’s son Jakob who died so recently and so young
The soldiers buried alongside my father at the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetary, especially the one who died in a Blackhawk accident at the age of 23
I cry every time I read his gravestone.
Mary Rothgery, a Great Lakes Brewery employee who was shot by her husband after she filed for divorce, and all other victims of domestic abuse
I get tears in my eyes when I think of the Rothgery children too.
Some of the names on my list are from the distant past.
My grandparents, aunts, uncles and great-grandparents
Sandy and Mark, two friends who died in separate car accidents while I was in still in college
Whenever I think of Sandra, I remember her twin sister Sheila and wonder where and how she is.
My litany is an attempt to honor the memory of those who are gone, and as I grow longer, the list grows longer. Someday — when my litany is no more — I hope someone will pause and spare a similar thought for me.
And on Memorial Day, a holiday established to honor those who have died for our country, I say a prayer for those men and women too, as well as for those who continue to fight in the name of the United States.
Today, as I wrote this blog at 2:58 pm Memorial Day 2012, in a true case of serendipity, I came across the following:“The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: ‘It’s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.’” (http://tinyurl.com/3gynq2f)
So I paused for a moment of remembrance. Perhaps when you read this, you will do the same even if it’s no longer the official time. It’s the thought that counts, right? Then maybe you’ll take another moment to repeat your own litany.
Finally, in one last tribute to those who have died in service to their countries, I offer the following poem, care of the inimitable Charles Schultz.