Memorial Day · 6 June 2007
We do not have any relatives buried here but we took a trip to the cemetery in Monroe to give the kids a little history and perspective about Memorial Day. There were full-size flags flying on both sides of Old Owen Road and little flags adorned many grave sites. People were tending to relative’s graves and just walking around, surely, thinking about those who had gone before. Even though none of my own relatives are buried there, I thought about some of them as we walked around and as I sit here remembering that walk.
Many of the people had their military service engraved on their headstones. They must have been proud to have served their country and the people who live here. I thought about my own uncles who have passed away. I thought about my Uncle Tick who got a Purple Heart and Silver Star for valor in World War II. I thought about his brothers, Uncle Harry and Uncle George, who were ready to serve in the Military Intelligence Service and the Army, respectively. My uncles served or prepared to serve their country and then went back to live out the rest of their lives talking little if any about their time of service.
I thought about my living uncles who are vets too. I thought about Uncle Les, my mom’s other brother who proudly wore a uniform. I thought about Uncle Don and Uncle Wes, my dad’s brothers who served. One in Vietnam and one afterward. I feel remiss that I do not know more of what any of them did in the service. I wonder if they even want anybody to ask.
When we walked through the cemetery on Memorial Day, I was not just reminded of the veterans in our family. I thought of Auntie Edna, my mom’s sister. I can still hear her laughter and see her smile. Then we noticed a grave of a child who lived only three days. My mind was taken immediately to a cemetery in Platteville, Colorado. A baby who was my cousin is buried there along with other relatives. When my family used to live there, we would go to that cemetery and one in Greeley, Colorado to pay respects to our relatives. The last time I was in Platteville, it was hard going by the grave of my cousin, Danny, who was just nine months older than I. He was only in his early thirties when he died. I still miss him and the other relatives who are gone. I miss going to the cemeteries on Memorial Day to remember them all.
I do not think about death very often but it is healthy to remember those who have gone before us. I know that when we lose loved ones, we think about them more than just a day out of the year, but it is good that we have at least one special day to remember them. Whether the loved ones were veterans or not, we have a day when it is okay to cry and remember the good times and bad.
Even though we have no relatives buried in Monroe, I am glad that we took a trip to the cemetery on Memorial Day. It gave me a chance to remember the people I hold dear who have already passed away. It helped me remember that those people still live in our hearts and in the stories we used to tell about them after we had gathered at their graves. And it helped me to remember that I need to make sure I take care of my loved ones who are still here. I do not know if my kids got any perspective out of the trip to the cemetery but I did.
© 2007 Michael T. Miyoshi
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Published 12 June 2007 in The Monroe Monitor & Valley News
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