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Posts Tagged ‘Memorial Day’

At the end of a rather busy day. I impulsively pulled into the parking lot in Elmhurst’s Wilder Park. I had not been to the Conservatory in a long while, so, thought I would take a few minutes to see what was flowering and to bask in the calm, rejuvenating presence of place. As I pulled into a parking spot, my breath was caught by the kiss of a breeze on the wave of rows of flags. Memorial Day was but a few days away.

My steps took me toward a direction I had not planned. I bypassed the conservatory and ascended the steep steps of the historic Wilder Mansion. The Mansion was closed, but, I took the advantage that the elevated steps would afford me of a different view of the flags.

The flags are placed in remembrance of those who died while in service to their country. They called Elmhurst home; a home that honors them in this park and in other locations on Memorial Day. I was moved by the flags; by what they represent and the sacrifices made by each life and by their loved ones. I said a silent prayer. A young woman, camera in hand, passed by, looked up at me, and climbed the flight of stairs as well.

As I looked out across the landscape, I could see what looked like a large marker just beyond the flags, and decided to walk the small distance of grass, past the flags, to have a closer look. As I walked, the breeze touched the flags, revealing cards which held the names of those who had died. Two children ran between the rows and I thought it about how the sacrifices of those these flags represent gave us a country where children could frolic free and happy on a warm spring day.

The monument I saw in the background was one that had eluded me for several years. I knew it was in Wilder Park,  I just wasn’t successful in finding it. The flags on the lawn and my perch on the steps revealed it to me.

This monument is to honor those from Elmhurst who lost their lives in Vietnam and commemorating the Moving Wall that stood in this park in 1988.

Visiting the Moving Wall in Wilder Park in 1988 was a humbling experience and, I think, a somewhat healing experience for many. It was there that I found the name of a boy from school days; elementary school and high school. It was there we witnessed a friend, head bowed, tears in his eyes. We had not known that he served in Vietnam, nor that most of his squadron had died. His wife had not known he had come to the Moving Wall – alone. It was there I saw a prominent member of the community bow his head and stand. His fraternity brother was named on that wall. It was there that I brought some work friends during our lunch hour, and there one of the principles of the company we worked for went. A few minutes late getting back from lunch, he heard mention of the Moving Wall. He asked me for directions and left. Returning later, he came up to my desk and quietly thanked me. I had not known until that moment that he had served in Vietnam.

I walked from the monument, past the flags and on to the permanent veterans’ memorial in another section of the park. It is here that the annual Elmhurst Memorial Day parade ends and it is here where a military ceremony is held after the parade. It is here where white crosses have been placed in honor and memory of those who gave their lives.

It is not just in Elmhurst, nor just in the United States where memorials are held for fallen military, but, it was here, in this park, where I was, yet again, humbled by the service and the loss of those for whom we take a this Monday at the end of May to honor.

May we always remember.

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dscn8764

I slipped outside, without my cell phone, my camera, my notebook, a freshly brewed cup of tea balancing on a saucer, steam rising on this misty morning. I was walking toward the arbor, hoping not to spill. My eyes were on the piping hot tea in my cup, which reflected the overcast sky. The sky always seems to be overcast on Memorial Day. It is as if it is part of the tradition, honoring our heroes among the clouds, collectively shedding our tears.

I spent some time earlier, checking my emails, my blog, your blog, clicking “likes” on Facebook while simultaneously surfing the morning news on the television. It is easy to honor veterans from the comfort of home, not having to help a veteran put on her prosthesis or witness a friend dealing with the myriad of stress disorders veterans carry – or placing a wreath on a loved one’s grave.

I paused in my journey out back and said a prayer for those who have fallen.

As I stopped, I could see in the green vista more creeping Charlie and clover than grass. A woodchuck was nibbling on his morning meal. A doe was trimming the trees; an ever-changing browse line defining our little territory. A robin took her morning bath, me still in my pajamas, hoping the neighbors wouldn’t see me and I was keenly aware of the liberty I have, walking my little acreage on a misty morning in May, aware in equal measure of those who gave their lives in battle, gratitude in my heart, in my soul.

Memorial Day

Remember

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Today is a federal holiday in the United States. Memorial Day. Dating back to customs following the Civil War of decorating the graves of fallen soldiers, it was originally called Decoration Day and slowly, over time and years and wars, became a national day of remembering.

I remember my childhood, all of us packed into a car, driving to Elmwood Cemetery, putting flowers on my grandfather’s grave, playing as children do around the old headstones, all the little American flags at the section a little further away where the soldiers were buried, and then the sudden round of a twenty-one gun salute.

It is right to remember those who sacrificed their lives for their countrymen.

Those of you in other lands across the oceans and hemispheres have similar days for honoring your fallen men and women. Though each country calls such an occasion a different name under a different flag, it is the act of  honoring those who have fallen that holds a universal meaning.

This song is from the Ken Burns/PBS production of The War. It came to mind today and I  would like to share it with you now.

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Field of Poppies by Julius Rolshoven

home.earthlink.net/~alrnevada/post149/id26.html

Here in the United States, we honor all who sacrificed their lives or returned home injured from war and dedicate a day, Memorial Day, each May, to honor them. There are parades and ceremonies at cemeteries and parks, national tributes and prayers in houses of worship.

The poem, In Flanders Field, was written by Colonel John McCrae of the Canadian First Brigade Artillery in December, 1915 in Flanders Fields. Information on the poem can be found by clicking on the link above.

May you have a safe and peaceful Memorial Day as we remember all the men and women who have made the greatest of sacrifices.

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