Memorial Day is a day for the remembrance of fallen soldiers; however, it has turned into a day that not only honors those who served our country in the military but also remembers our deceased family members. This can be seen throughout many cemeteries in the country whose graves are decorated with flowers and trinkets in addition to flags.
Memorial Day for me in the past consisted of one of two activities, depending upon my age. When I was a child, I accompanied my mother to the Pine Island Cemetery located in Pine Island, Goodhue County, Minnesota (not far from Rochester, Minnesota). There we visited the graves of various family members. We would leave potted plants and flowers in plant stands provided by the cemetery. My mother continued this tradition with my oldest son, Matthew; and, she would explain to him his relationship to the various relatives.
|Pine Island Cemetery Gate|
My other Memorial Day activity that happened with any regularity occurred when my youngest child, Patrick, was in middle school and high school. Patrick was in the band and played the trumpet. I, of course, believed he was the best trumpet player in the band, particularly in high school. Every Memorial Day his school band would march in the Memorial Day parade, stand at attention at the local courthouse during speeches honoring the local fallen soldiers, and then march to the cemetery for another ceremony.
The cemetery ceremonies for me are the most vivid recollections of my Memorial Days Past. It was here that Patrick and another trumpeter would “disappear” (somewhere in the cemetery). One of them would play taps, and the other would echo back with taps. To say it was a moving experience does not do it justice: The performance of the two trumpeters brought tears to some of the onlookers and, I am sure, goose bumps to all the onlookers. Whenever taps is played in a cemetery, that is a true honor to the fallen who have served our country.
|Patrick in full-dress uniform ~ 1991|
Memorial Day is about remembering past and those who have fallen; but, it is also a time to make memories that we can carry into the future.