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Mountain Musings — Memorial Day thoughts

 

Memorial Day thoughts

As Memorial Day weekend is upon us, so many memories return of past Memorial Day holidays.  Family picnics, helping to make enough food to feed an army, going swimming if it was warm enough as pools were officially open and planting the last garden plants that needed protection from frost were some of the activities.

My grandmother-my mom’s mother-used to grow a porch full of flowers that she sold to passersby and visitors to the cemetery that was across the street, especially on Memorial Day weekend.  She grew marigolds, petunias, geraniums, asters, alyssum, phlox and so much more.  Her porch was always a rainbow of colors.

I went once with my cousin Ed on a long hike into the cemetery across from Grandma’s and deep into its woods. It was so pretty and peaceful there during the day and I imagined all the souls at rest enjoying the view. But at night it was unsettling to sleep over at Grandma’s with a cemetery just a jump away.

I remember playing hide and seek in the cemetery one night with my older brother and cousins on kind of a mutual “Scare Your Pants Off” dare. I hid behind the closest tombstone so I was the first person found.

The cemetery that some family members were buried on was way up on a hillside that overlooked Grandma Taylor’s neighborhood in the McKees Rocks. Memorial Day weekend became an annual family tradition to visit the family gravesites there with Mom when I was young.  More family members died over the years with other cemeteries to visit.

As the years went by, I’d take flowers to Resurrection Cemetery where my parents and youngest brother and several aunts and uncles and grandparents were buried when I visited family in Pittsburgh.  Sometimes I was by myself or with my sister or youngest brother before he passed away.  We almost always got lost trying to find the cemetery but would get there eventually.

I recall the sight of all the flags that would be flying at gravesites throughout Resurrection Cemetery around Memorial Day and Veterans Day was so moving.  I was very proud of the flag by Dad’s grave and the World War II veteran’s marker beside it.  Dad served in the Air Force in England during the Second World War

My Uncle Gil was a paratrooper in the Korean War.  Uncle Fred, another World War II veteran, is buried at Gettysburg National Cemetery. Other family members have served in different wars and capacities.

Memorial Day or Dedication Day was originally established to commemorate those who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan issued a proclamation that Decoration Day should be celebrated annually and nationwide.

The heavy stillness at the hallowed grounds of Gettysburg where so many Union and Confederate soldiers died is powerful.  The sight of the long lines of crosses and graves in the cemetery in Normandy, France that holds the heroes who perished at D-Day is heart-breaking.

Commemorating those who have lost their lives in service to our country on Memorial Weekend is a profound way to treasure their lives.  Paying tribute to family and friends on Memorial Day whom we have loved and lost brings back their memories to cherish.

Sending wishes and prayers that all of our departed veterans and loved ones are resting in peace.  May they always live on in our hearts.

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