Like many Americans, I was looking forward to Memorial Day weekend. I thought of warm weather, hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, of relaxing and maybe doing a little yard work – if I felt like it. I thought of fragrant flowers blooming, flags waving, kids playing. But most importantly, I thought about those who served our country and died so that we can have the peace and wonderful lives we have today. On this day in particular, I feel so proud of our country and of the brave men and women who sacrificed themselves to make a better world for future generations – for our generation.
Every night our family thinks about and prays for the soldiers fighting in Iraq (my 4-year-old prays, Dear God, Please watch over the whole entire Iraq and make sure the soldiers come home safely and watch over yourself and Jesus…I hope you have a good time together…). But on this special day, our family will pay homage to those ‘forgotten’ souls buried in the graveyard near our house. At the same time, we will think about our own lost loved ones lying far away in deep soil too far away for us to reach. It is time we pull them nearer with our thoughts.
On this day, strangers to us will become new acquaintances. We don’t know much about the people buried in this small, family graveyard, but we can say thank you to them – for clearing this land, for planting those glorious lilacs, for digging up all those Granite State rocks. Thank you for this wonderful place. And we will offer our companionship to them in return. We will give them the gift of the sound of young voices and of exuberant life and of remembering.
And while there will probably be one or two spirits who would wish we’d just go away and leave them to their peace and quiet, I imagine the rest will enjoy experiencing something a little different. Something that reminds them of what was, so they can do their own remembering. So they can be alive if only for a moment.
Memorial Day is for Memories. This year, make your memories good and positive ones so that you can carry them with you throughout the year, a sort of talisman against further war, further death and violence, and as a reminder that there’s more to this world than what we can see, that you can be a part of the healing.
In remembering, we acknowledge what we were and where we came from, and in doing so, shall never be lost.