To the family historian, Memorial Day is a bitter sweet holiday. Sure we love research our ancestors, most of which are dead, but Memorial Day is that day we give honor and respect to those ancestors who didn’t die of old age, or cancer, or heart disease. They instead died young, and on the battle field. Usually very far from home.
I am fortunate that in my family there aren’t ancestors to memorialize on Memorial Day. My father did not serve in any military service. My paternal grandfather was too young for WWI, too old for WWII. My maternal grandfather was old enough (barely) for WWI, but not called up thankfully. I do have ancestors that fought in the Civil War. But they all came home safely (although injured). One ancestor was murdered after he got home, but he made it home from battle fine.
Mine isn’t really a military family. But that doesn’t stop me from being patriotic. Watching that Marine bring in the Memorial Day wreath Sunday morning set me to bawling. I can’t watch phone commercials, much less a 20 year old boy bringing in a wreath to honor his fallen comrades. I wasn’t the only one wiping tears though and as we said the pledge, I noticed I wasn’t the only one who still hadn’t gotten it altogether.
On Memorial Day, it’s my husband’s family tradition to clean family graveyards. This year, I went with them. We had a great time, played in the rain, cut some grass and poison ivy, paid our respects to his ancestors. We looked at old pictures of them when they were living (aren’t digital cameras cool), I took some digital pictures of the stones (the old ones needed scanning.)
His family are military, serving in most major military war since the Revolutionary War. A proud military family. Proud of their roots and willing to fight for our freedoms.
Cutting a little grass seems a small tribute to pay to the men and women who fought and died for us. How did you celebrate Memorial Day?