Then there was some anger directed against unnecessary war and the cost of lives lost in these wars. I understand that too.
My family has a long record of service to this country. My ancestors fought in the War of Independence, the War of 1812, my great great great grandfather was a drummer boy for the Union in the Civil War, my Dad fought in WWI, my cousins fought in WWII as well as the Korean War, and I even have a cousin that was rumored to be a spy for the US during the Cold War.
However, my parents also taught me the idea that Memorial Day was to honor all of our dead friends and family regardless whether they had fallen during a time of war or died during a time of peace. Memorial Day was a day spent at the cemetery mowing the grass, trimming the hedges, washing the the tombstones, and planting flowers (this was before cemetery associations). And most importantly it was a time of quiet reflection, prayer, and remembrance of the loved one buried there.
When my sister Ruth died, my parents had bought a number of plots in a small country cemetery that was on a winding road that followed the St. Croix River. During those first fews years, it was only my sister Ruth that was buried there and I remember my normally stoic parents with tears in their eyes as they tended to her grave. Then as the years progressed other graves and tombstones were added alongside that of my sister...Uncle Emmet, my dad, Aunt Libby, my mom, and my cousin Milton. There is still room for more of us when the time comes.
Yet, even as we honor the dead and those that served there is nothing wrong with making this weekend a celebration of life for there are many living memories of good things. For instance this year was my 33rd anniversary of moving to San Francisco. The years have flown by and as I sit here typing these words I find myself stunned at how quickly the time has gone. I tell you...these have been 33 years of fun-filled memories as well as a fair share of sadder memories...but the total of it all is a life well lived. So why not celebrate that too?
So yesterday the two people closest to me and I celebrated the day by honoring the past yet celebrating the moment...and we gave a nod to the future as well. It was a day well spent.