Memorial Day can be defined as a day established for people to remember significant people or events. We inherit memories of people and events that effect us as individuals, families, and as a country.
As a country we remember the military who sacrificed their lives in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, WW 1, WW2, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Gulf War, and of course the most recent war in the Middle East. What we forget are the little “battles” and assignments that military personal still have to do such as “man” the bases we create after a war. There may not be any physical battles in Germany or Australia but ask any military personnel and they will tell you they are fighting to learn how to be better soldiers. They are learning from the soldiers that fought in the previous wars. That is their “inheritance”.
My family showed me the other meaning of this patriotic day. Just remembering significant people. People who have lived before us who meant something to us or to people we love.
Before I went to live with the cousins, the only holidays that I paid attention to were Christmas and Easter. Those were the two holidays I went to visit with my brothers and my other Grandmother and my Dad. This family was different. Almost every holiday meant a family gathering of some sort. Christmas was a two day event, starting at one house for Christmas Eve, then Christmas day was our house for brunch then Eleonore’s house for caroling and dinner. By the time I was 11 I started calling Eleonore, Grandmother and Ed, Grandfather. I know it seems confusing to an outsider looking in but when you have lived it, it makes sense.
Memorial Day was celebrated in another family gathering. The whole family, Grandmother, Grandfather, Leslie’s family, Nancy’s family, and the 6 of us, all met at the local nursery and picked out plants. They would be planted at the graves of family members. At 11 I thought this was neat. We went to Grandfather’s family’s graves and planted some things. Then we all went to Grandmother’s parents’ grave (If you have been following the family tree, Anne and John Becker) and planted some flowers there. Afterward, all 15 of us went to a local restaurant for lunch. I liked this new tradition I was learning about. I looked forward to Memorial Day every year from then on. This was our inheritance. To pay respect to the people in our family who came before us and taught us how to pray, live, work, and play.
So, as some may look at Memorial Day as a somber day of remembering our military, or as a day to party, maybe you can look at it differently too. Maybe you can start a new tradition for you and your children. Plant some plants to honor your parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, great grandparents, etc…. and show your children that memorial doesn’t always have to be sad. Memorial Day is a day to show respect of the memories of other people, who have come before us to “blaze a trail” of faith, peace, love and hope. That is our inheritance which is valued as priceless.