Sadly, the “federally recognized” day for Memorial Day passed and I just outright forgot it what with my issues with “Life.” But, since the traditional day for Memorial Day was May 30, I will do my comments today.
Initially, Memorial Day was actually periodic recognized days of remembrance following the Civil War in the United States. Those “recognized days” tended to be all over the place as to the actual dates that they were observed and some had different names as well. Prior to an official name of Memorial Day being created in 1967, it was more commonly known as Decoration Day.
I suspect that Decoration Day may have been used because it had become a tradition to not only honor our fallen heroes of the military, but to also honor our ancestors and friends as well. In our case, we are no longer anywhere near where our ancestors have their final resting places, so instead of decorating, we have a simple remembrance of them as we knew them in life.
Having a number of family members who had served in the military, it was natural for me to really acknowledge more of the memorials to those who had served. While Mother decorated the graves of our family, our main reason for going was for the memorial conducted by veterans who were members of the American Legion.
While my participation came about strangely, I did take great pride in my part of the ceremony of the colors and the 21 gun salute. As a young lad, two things happened coincidentally to put me there as a part of the military salute. I was in scouting, thus I had a “uniform.” I had also received a toy plastic trumpet as a kid and I had learned to play “Taps” with that silly little toy.
One day, one of the vets heard me playing that and investigated to see who was playing “Taps.” After seeing that it was me, he told the other vets of his discovery. Then two or three of them approached Mother and asked her if I would consider playing “Taps” at the Decoration Day military tribute.
With all that said, for a number of years as a young boy in a scout uniform, I stood behind the honor guard and after the firing of the 21 gun salute, I did my feeble rendition of a classic military honor to the fallen. You know, no one seemed to care that the trumpet was plastic as no one ever commented on that, but I was always thanked for my participation.
Today, I am a vet and have continued a long traditional love of those that have served in our nation’s military. I no longer play a plastic trumpet because it is long gone and I’ve never really developed a talent for playing music on any other instrument. I’ve long considered myself lucky that the prairie where the cemetery for Keyes, Oklahoma is located does not have enough trees or anything else to create an echo of my playing of “Taps.” I’m not sure that anyone wanted to hear it a second time.
Now, Jo and I try to go up to military members when we meet them and offer them our hand and our thanks for their service. When possible, if we see some in a restaurant, we try to have our waitperson get the tickets of those in uniform so we can pay for their meals anonymously. It is the least we can do to honor the living.
So, on this the traditional day of Memorial Day, I offer my sincere thanks to both the living and those passed on that served our country. My thanks also go to their families for the sacrifices they made as well.
Finally, forgive me that I should intrude on someone’s grief, but this photo says so much.
God bless you all.