Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend, Past and Present

On this Memorial Day I want to thank our service men and women for their service to our country. It does not matter if your service is recent or long ago. You have given much and I have great appreciation for your service. We at REGI are involved with veterans from many wars. We often release eagles in their honor. We are thrilled to be able to offer what we can do in tribute to these fine men and women. It it a tiny offering in contrast to their contribution.

On a personal note Memorial Day or as my late parents referred to it, Decoration Day, was always a solemn occasion. For the week or two previous my mother would plant flowers at the cemetery for our late relatives. My family has lived in the same area for a hundred years, so there were lots of graves to decorate.

( Photo: Private Emil Gleich died in France Oct. 14, 1918)

My mother lost a favorite uncle in WWI. Private Emil Gleich died in France in 1918. He was the youngest of the family and adored by everyone. He was the talented one that was earmarked to do great things in life. I heard his story at least once a year until my mother herself passed away a few years ago at age 92. Mother spent extra time on his grave and weep as she did. Memorial Day was sad. It was about remembering and respecting the memory of those that have gone on. It was about not forgetting the lives and contributions many of which affect our lives even today.

As a child I didn't understand it all very well. While our presence at the cemetery was mandatory, my cousin and I would amuse ourselves looking at gravestones. We played games trying to remember where the oldest person was buried and how old each was when they passed. I remember when we found the headstone of a child that was younger than we were at the time. A cold chill ran down us as the reality of that hit us. There were rules such as not walking on the graves, no running and most of all no laughing because it was disrespectful to the memory of those buried. We were very excited to see the parades and the military honor guard that brought the flags and shot the guns in salute. The weekend was an integral part of our life.

I went from a child being there because my mother said it was important to truly understanding the reason behind the solemnness of it all. Now it is I that take flowers to my parents graves and those of the relatives that meant so much to my parents. I spend a little extra time at mothers uncles grave as well.

Everyone in this country has lost someone special in their lives to war or militarily conflict. For some it was a father, mother, son or daughter. For others a husband, wife, or best friend. Memorial Day is a special time that we do take to demonstrate our respect and love.

Cook-outs and family gatherings abound this weekend. Gathering of family and friends is an important aspect of remembering and sharing stories that will be passed down to the younger generation. Take time to pass down some memories of those that are no longer with us. Your kids will benefit in the end with a greater understanding of where they came from and those that have died to make our country safe.

There are a few photos below of past REGI events that have honored veterans.

Marge Gibson © 2009

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