A Day of Remembrance…and BBQ

30 May

In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae, Moina Michael wrote:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

This seems to be a random piece of unimportant information, but, keep reading. Traditionally, Memorial Day, which will be officially observed tomorrow, involved poppies and proper American flag etiquette. Yet, as the years have marched on, tradition has been lost and replaced instead by backyard barbecues, beer, and a day off from work. Well, that’s all well and good, but the history of Memorial Day is often left behind. Did you know that Memorial Day was officially proclaimed by General John Logan, the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic (veterans of the Union army), on May 5, 1868. And, it was first observed 142 years ago, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery.

This is why I have chosen to lead this post with this particular poem. It is so easy to lose the true purpose of Memorial Day among the vast quantities of burgers, hot dogs, cole slaw and apple pie (the classic American feast). Family comes over and discussion generally does not enter the realm of war and death. Why? Well, it’s rather depressing. I will be the first one to tell you. Such discussion can ruin a pleasant afternoon. Yes, I understand this particular quandary, but, it goes without saying that we must honor our fallen soldiers each and every day. Memorial Day provides a convenient calendar date to reflect, but, what good does it serve if many do not reflect. So, I will institute in this post a call to action. Go outside tomorrow into your garden, your local park, your street corner; at a Memorial Day gathering or by yourself. Pluck a flower from the ground (does not have to be a poppy). Think of the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and think of their families who may be having a memorial day barbecue without the smile of their lost son, daughter, mom or dad. Think of them and let the flower go. Keeping them in our mind is the least we can do.

Now, onto some music. Many are probably assuming that I will go with the classic Memorial Day song choice on this blog post. Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American” is as patriotic as kissing the American flag, but, I want to choose something a little different. Like Q1043 (the classic rock radio station of the New York City/Long Island area) often says, “Let’s take one off the back wall.” So, my Memorial Day must-have comes from Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler, “Ballad of the Green Beret.”

Stay close tomorrow; another post will be coming out you. One having to do with my recent trip to Israel (which is still screwing with my sleep patterns).

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