Memories of Memorial Day parades. Floats. Bands. And, most importantly, American flags.
Children looked forward to the clowns. Walking and waving and throwing pieces of candy to little hands eager to grab as many pieces as they could while families and friends lined up along the roadside,.
Young girls were always eager to see what the Prom King and Queen wore with visions of one day wearing the crown and riding in the back seat of a convertible while everyone oooohed and ahhhhed and took pictures.
High School guys … well, they really didn’t care much but hung out with friends behind the crowds while the parade passed by.
Parents watched intently for their kids marching in the band, hoping to capture a photo they would hold near and dear to their hearts for years to come.
The streets were lined with American flags. The parade colors were red, white and blue. Honor and respect was given to all who fought and died while securing American freedoms. The Veterans and those in active duty understood more than anyone what Memorial Day represented. To many, it was a bittersweet day. Memories of the stench of war. The sound of drums echoing as a band passed by reminding them of the gunfire blasts claiming lives of both friend and foe. Proud to have survived. Proud to represent a nation that values freedom and is willing to pay the price. Proud to be an American veteran. All while praying the vivid memories of the horror of war, death and devastation would fade into a distant past so life as a civilian would find a sense of normal.
As the daughter of a proud veteran, I grew up with great appreciation for the United States military. Patriotism came natural. I can’t remember anyone ever speaking ill of the United States or its armed forces. One of the treasures my Dad left behind is a scrapbook from his time serving in WWII. Tucked inside and taped to the yellowing pages are photographs, newspaper articles, and telegrams to and from the love of his life. His ribbons, badges and commendations complete this historical treasure I hold so dear. It contained a part of his life that made my Dad into the man he was. A strong, proud American.
My husband is a Viet Nam veteran, a man who loves his country and is honored to have had the privilege to serve as a Sailor on USS Princeton from 1964 to 1969. I’m humbled to stand by his side during times of public recognition and am grateful for his indisputable patriotism. I’ve watched him wipe tears from his eyes as he watches a flag-raising at dawn, stands to pledge of allegiance to our flag or listen to the national anthem. This proud veteran instilled a strong sense of patriotism in all our children who share his love for God and country.
For many of us, Memorial Day has traditionally been a day filled with memories of valiant soldiers marching into the landscape of the unknown. Regardless of the war, the objective has always been to vanquish the enemy and win freedom from tyranny, oppression and evil. Defeat was never an option. Surrender unheard of. Victory for the sake of one’s beloved homeland the ultimate goal.
Many aspects of past battles for freedom only come alive through written records found in history books and historical records. Some would say it is unfortunate that so many valiant warriors passed on with memories too difficult to share, too vivid to explain, and too painful to allow to surface. Surely, those having fought freedom’s battle understood why so many memories have been forever lost. The least we, as American citizens, can do is set aside some time to sincerely honor those who sacrificed so much so we could enjoy our parades and picnics and family time each Memorial Day.
Take advantage of this Memorial Day to teach your children the value of our freedoms. It is unfortunate that history is being rewritten to meet the goals of those overly concerned with political correctness and social acceptance. Our children need to understand the rich heritage found in the heart and memory of the brave American soldier. It’s important we all understand that because of those we remember and honor this Memorial Day, we are free to enjoy the blessings of freedom paid for by their bravery and willingness to die for our country.
The stories hidden in the memoirs of those who have passed on combined with the memories of our present-day veterans and soldiers can be pieced together like an amazing puzzle creating a dramatic portrait of the richness of our traditional American culture. We must be careful to cherish what God has provided every citizen through the valiant service of the past, present and future American soldier.
Happy Memorial Day! God bless America … God bless you!
© 2017 Jan Ross
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