Contrary to what a lot of people seem to think, Memorial Day is not the same thing as Veteran’s Day. Veteran’s Day is the day we honor those who have served (and we’ve added those who are currently serving). Memorial Day is the day we honor and remember those who gave their lives for this country or who, having served with honor, have passed away.
I am an Army brat. I used to say that as something of a joke or an explanation for some tic or habit that I had. Now, it’s something I’m truly proud of. I have not served in the military, but I grew up in it and developed a deep and abiding respect for it and those who choose to join. Many of my students are ROTC cadets. When they find out I’m an Army brat they tend to relax a bit more around me; I have an understanding of and respect for what they’re doing.
On Sunday (yesterday), we went up to Washington Crossing National Cemetery where my parents are buried. National cemeteries are sobering on the most ordinary of days. They are doubly so on Memorial Day weekend. There were far more people up there than on other days we’ve visited. And flags lined the drive into the cemetery and through it.
Every time I visit, I am reminded about how much I miss my parents. My dad died in 2013 and my mom died in 2016. My dad died from a heart attack brought on by the stress of caring for my mother and then, right before he died, the stress brought on by my sociopathic cousin. She tried to take him for all he’s worth both financially and emotionally. Needless to say, I don’t speak to her any longer.
On Memorial Day I put out my little flag and remember my father and all the others who have passed on having completed or in the middle of their service to our country. It doesn’t, or it shouldn’t, matter when, where, or why they served. They did and we honor them for it.
Photo by Becky Jones, 2019. Washington Crossing National Cemetery