On Memorial Day

Memorial Day may mean stores are open for shopping but it I one holiday where its meaning is rarely far from sight. In Fairfield, we would always attend the town’s parade, which was filled with pomp circumstance and float after float. People would hold spots along the route with blankets and chairs for days in advance until it grew out of control and the police insisted on rules to curb the habit.

We’d always walk to our favorite site since the traffic was crazy. Sometimes we brought the dogs but usually it was us, the kids, some chairs and the morning paper (something to do until the kickoff). Once, when I coached Little League, our team marched and it was a vastly different experience being a part of the miles-long caravan of organizations. But it always began with cars filled with veterans in ascending order, from World War I vets through the Iraqi war. They’d always receive applause, waves, and tips of the cap while they gamely waved back.

No such thing down here where we live these days and I admit to missing it, the sense of community and feeling of belonging.

My family has had few actively serve. According to my mother, one branch of the family can trace back to a drummer boy in the Civil War. My father’s father served in the Great War and I have seen a picture of him in uniform but he never spoke about it. Shortly before he died, he did mention his service and showed me a commemorative coin he seemed to carry with him daily but I have no real feel for it.

My Uncle Bud, his eldest son, joined the Navy but just missed serving in World War II. He did look good in his crisp, white uniform, though.

Dad always told me he was assigned to a branch of the Army that was looking for Communists on American soil and he spent his stint during the Korean War in Watertown, New York. His training was your standard boot camp although the southern black sergeant could never get his name right and just called him “Greenbugs”. (Do not try this with me.)

The relatives in the older generation of the family served but never talked about it and there are no stories to share. As far I know, we didn’t lose any to a foreign conflict and I was young enough to just miss the Vietnam draft years. It certainly felt odd to register, as required, when I turned eighteen but it was always a distant concept.

That said, I read my fair share of war comics and talked to many a comics creator who did serve and recognize what their experiences were like. So today is an excellent opportunity to pause and reflect, remembering those who sacrificed themselves for our freedom and thank those who made it back safely.

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