Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day. What does it mean to you?

Memorial Day.  What does it mean to you? What does it mean to me?

I know what it is designated to be and that is a day to remember those who have given their lives, the ultimate sacrifice, in battle to secure and maintain the freedoms we hold dear here in this beloved United States of America. But really, what does it mean to you and to me?
It depends on how you’ve been raised to remember the day and it depends on how your community remembers the day. But it also means how you as an individual have brought into your own being a desire to take moments or a day to recall the struggle of battle, the cost of war, the ultimate sacrifice of thousands upon thousands who have won our freedoms.

As a small girl in the 1940s, I had three uncles who were Army men. Two served in Europe and one was an Army pilot. An army pilot who trained others to pilot planes to fly in Europe or in the Pacific. My father could not serve because he had medical problems. He tried to serve. He signed up. He joined. And then they said, “No, go home.” My grandmother had four sons and they would have all served. But only three were accepted.

Dad loved photography and he took pictures – stills and movies. We have a special 16mm movie he took. It shows a little boy dressed in a play army uniform – my older brother around 10 years old. It shows a little girl with a mass of curls and big little girl smile – me – around four years old. It shows a grandmother and grandfather proudly smiling. It also shows a handsome young man in full army uniform. My Uncle Herbert. We’re all smiling, waving, and enjoying ourselves.

That was my Uncle Herbert’s final trip home.
Brother Sam & Uncle Herbert

Grandfather & Grandmother With Uncle Herbert

Uncle LH, Uncle Bill, & Dad
He died. Not on a battle field. Not from an enemy bullet. Not from a crash of his airplane on foreign soil. He died teaching another how to fly a plane. But he, too, gave the ultimate sacrifice. He, too, was lost to a mother and father who loved him. I lost an uncle. My brother lost an uncle. My uncle never had a wife. Never had children. He was America’s youth. And like so many of America’s youth in the 1940s, he gave his all.

My other two uncles served in Europe. Thankfully, they came home. They married and had children. And they loved on the little girl that lost her other uncle.

Our family has had others who also served. I think of…..
My husband – US Airforce during the Korean War
My cousin, Lee – US Army served in Vietnam
My brother, Herb  - US Army
My brother, Sam – US Army
My father-in-law – US Army, WWI
So what does Memorial Day mean to me, it means family time. It means time to be thankful for our freedoms. It means a time to recall those who served our country and especially those whose service was the ultimate sacrifice.

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