Monday, May 30, 2011

For Our Faithful Followers. . .

    Yes, it's Memorial Day. I am not going to open a political can of worms by telling you how to spend your day (although "holiday" and "celebrate" never seemed appropriate words to use in connection with a day originally called "Decoration Day"...a day the families of Union soldiers "decorated" their graves.) Somehow along the way, Decoration Day became Memorial Day and Memorial Day became the unofficial first day of summer.
  
     I am choosing to honor the unofficial start of summer by frying myself at the beach. And being a writer of historical fiction, I am contemplating those who have served our country in the military, past and present.

However you feel about a particular war or "conflict" (Neither Korea or Vietnam was ever officially designated a war, to say nothing of whatever you call the current action in the Middle East), the important thing for a writer is to not allow the world to forget the men and women who believed in sacrificing their own dreams and lives in service to their country.

    I am from the generation whose parents were in WWII. "What did your father do in the war?" was a question we kids asked as a matter of course. My parents were Navy cryptographers. My father-in-law, a Naval commander had not one, but two boats sunk from under him in the Pacific. My first boyfriend's father was in the infantry invasion of Italy. One of my distant relatives who had lied about his age to get into the service, died at D-Day, age fifteen. I had brothers who fought brothers during the  Civil War.
            (This is my mom the WAVE, home on leave. Note service flag in window. The five stars were for my mother, her three brothers, and a young man who boarded with my grandmother.)


 So today, as you are sizzling up those cheeseburgers or trying to find a place to park your towel at the beach, remember.  It's not our personal politics that matter, but those of our ancestors. We should honor their choice. Memorial Day...a day of memory.

Posted by Mary Ann Rodman

10 comments:

The Pen and Ink Blog said...

How odd. Both of our posts today are about "faithful followers. I remember when I was a child there was always a Memorial Day Parade and what impressed me most was that there were civil war veterans in the Parade. This was in the 50's and the Civil War had been over for a long time. It may have still been called Decoration Day. Here's a link to origins: http://www.usmemorialday.org/backgrnd.html
It's odd how names change. Armisitce day became Veteran's day in 1954

mary ann rodman said...

Dear P & I....

I promise I did not read your blog first! (Although I will now). It was still Decoration Day in the early 60's when the day meant you got a day off from school even though it was the last week of school, anyway, and riding your bike (with the crepe paper woven through the spokes) at the end of what seemed like an endless platoon of VFW guys and their wives.
My big surprise came when we moved to Mississippi when I was 10, and was informed that there was no such thing as Memorial Day; that was a "Yankee" holiday. Their "day" was Confederate Memorial Day at the end of April, which was NOT a school holiday.
MA

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks for reminding us of the meaning behind Memorial Day, Mary Ann, and for sharing the great photo of your mom.

Catherine Stine said...

As a Quaker, I feel that any war is a tragedy, although some war is inevitable. I respect our soldiers, yet I choose to focus on those "warriors" who fought in other ways for the country, and the world: Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Ben Franklin, Louis Pasteur, Harriet Tubman and the like.

Pam said...

My Grandfather and my Uncle fought in WW II. My Uncle just turned 90 this year. He is probably one of the few WW II veterans still alive. Memorial Day will always be a day for me to honor both my Uncle and Grandfather. They witnessed horrors of war to keep us safe.

mary ann rodman said...

Catherine,
Although my personal beliefs are more in line with yours, I still feel the need to honor those who followed THEIR beliefs. That is why I feel that the day truly is one of memorial, not only for those who followed their hearts into battle, but those who paid the price for following a different path to peace.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thank you for making us THINK, Mary Ann and Catherine.

Vincent Caliando said...

Wow! Thanks, Mary Ann, I spent the day with several members of our family. We did decorate the graves of our fallen family. My mother explained to her grandchildren 7, 4, and 18 months the importance of the flags that decorated my grandmother and grandfather's graves. It was a touching moment and sometimes I forget the shoulders of my grandfathers I stood on as I entered service to our country almost 12 years ago.

mary ann rodman said...

Dear Vincent,

Good for your mom, passing on the meaning of this true "decoration day with her grandchildren. I will be going home to Mississippi in a few weeks and will check with the "memorial park" (another term I have trouble with) where my mother is buried to see if they allow flags. I was so pleased and surprised when I discovered that she had a flag draped casket. It s only been in recent years that the women who served in WW II were designated as members of the military, and not "girl volunteers."

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