Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

    When I was a kid in Chicago, Memorial Day was the day you got out of school...and then you had to go back for another week. Frequently a parade was involved.

     In the South, I learned that Memorial Day was "invented by the Yankees." Memorial Day really was begun to commemorate the Union Army dead. Back South, we were taught that this was not the real Memorial Day. The real commemoration day was Confederate Memorial Day, which was sometime in April. The only thing important to me was that we didn't get a day free from school for either Memorial Day.

      As a teacher in Another Part of the South, the school year usually ended on Memorial Day, which meant the faculty was still working. By the time you had handed out report cards, packed up your classroom, and argued with a few parents over grades, my only thought was :Oh boy, two and a half months off." Not counting a week of inservice and a week that I had to chaperone a trip to cheerleading camp.

      School has bee out a week already here in Atlanta. Some how my life hasn't become any less full; school year responsibilities are replaced by summer activities.  As JoAnn said in her last post, this is a time of transition. But even among the flurry of end-of-school-beginning-of-summer activities, I hope to spend part of the day reflecting on the true meaning of this holiday. (It comes as a surprise to my daughter that Memorial Day was not created for "Memorial Day Mall Madness" sales!)  To me, the true theme of this day is "sacrifice and service." Two words that I don't hear much about these days. That is what I will be thinking about today; Americans present and past who have served out country in peace as well as war.

      My daughter will also probably coerce me into taking her to Mall Madness, as well.

      Have a good day, my friends.
      Mary Ann Rodman


Scotti Cohn said...

I enjoyed reading this, Mary Ann. I had the same Memorial Day "culture shock" experience when I moved to the South after being born in the Midwest and living in the Midwest for 26 years. Now that I'm back in the Midwest and freelancing, Memorial Day as a "day off" is no longer significant to me.

I agree with you that the true theme of the day is "sacrifice and service." I contemplate the day with mixed emotions.

mary ann rodman said...

Scotti...thank you so much for sharing your experience with the difference in regional "holidays". I hesitate to use the word "holiday" or "celebrate", because of what the day is meant to commemorate. I too, view the day with mixed emotions. Just as I have my characters discover, life is not full of easy answers and emotions.
With all of you in spirit today. MA