When we were kids, our parents always made a big thing about going out to decorate the graves of family members. This particular weekend was always called, Decoration Day.
Dad allowed us to climb up on the running boards, or sit in the dip of the huge front fenders. That's just the way cars were made in those days, which certainly made it fun for my brothers and I.
Mom would wash the brown granite stone, and weed all around. Real flowers were always planted, never plastic on styrofoam forms, popular in the day. It was an annual family event to do this, and we all went.
My Dad died in '71, and all of us have gone out to the cemetery where he is, with Mom, throughout the years. Now that Mom is 92, my oldest brother lives closest to the cemetery and is so good about keeping up the tradition for Mom's sake. She goes along, and comments that the headstone will have to be changed when she "goes." "Nobody thought I'd live this long," she says. The date on her side of the stone is 1917-19__.
She's well into the new millennium, and is like a Timex; keeps on ticking.
Memorial Day is still a time when families "decorate" the graves, but more so, it is now a day recognizing our soldiers, in every branch of service. Truly, it is to recognize the dead, who fell while serving. But, let's not forget that we have thousands of men "over there" still working, and fighting for peace in a land that seems it doesn't want it. Military work is hard, lonely, and dangerous.
Their families give them up, so that they can serve. They hold their breath until they are in sight again, and welcomed into waiting arms. God speed to all our men, who are there, who have died, who are safely home. God speed.