As I lay in my bed tonight with a full belly of ribs and all the fixings I know not everyone celebrated Memorial Day the way we did. Grilling and an over indulgence of food are how we celebrate most holidays. Not being geographically close to my family or the servicemen of my family it became more about being thankful for our freedom, family, and food. It was less about my family members who served this country.
Until I recently read an article in Okra Magazine I had no idea that Memorial Day was called Decoration until 1971. I’ve always been fascinated by history but missed that important distinction. I’ve often wondered by there are three patriotic holidays in a row with Memorial Day in May, Flag Day in June, and Independence Day in July.
Today we decorate our homes in patriotic themes but I’ve never washed a grave or put flags on graves for those who died serving our country. My connection to servicemen were uncles, grandfathers, and cousins many of whom are now gone. I regret not listening longer or thinking that their story too long. That oral history tradition is now gone. My most vivid memories are of my Uncle Marshall who retired from the National Guard after serving in the United States Army. I remember him showing me his food ration and his mess kit while telling me about sleeping on a cot. I was very grateful for 1980s comfortable bed and provisions though I did not truly understand the job of protecting and serving our country. Once Uncle Marshall returned from a deployment no longer able to smell anything (except bleach) or taste anything. I laughed and told him he could be very healthy and eat the vegetables he didn’t like and he no longer had to peel his tomatoes. We laughed and he kept on eating a little Debbie. These memories come flooding back each time I walk in the house my aunt and uncle lived in. Twice a year I get to step back in time, eat at the same table, and relive the memories. That’s what it’s all about. Remembering the past. Memorializing for future generations to learn from the past. So on this Memorial Day I am especially thankful for my family who served this country and miss sitting around the table with them.
God Bless America 🇺🇸