A Strong Tradition

Today, or this evening, is the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend in the United States. It is a time to remember and honor those who sacrificed for an idea, form of government, and human rights larger than themselves.

In recent years, I’ve come to view it as my dad’s holiday.

He was the combat veteran in the family. (Some of my uncles also — but they lived a distance away).

Every Memorial Day dad would join with the other members of the local American Legion post in the ceremonies to honor those who had gone before. They made sure every veteran’s grave had a small flag. Then in the morning, accompanied by the high school marching band, they visited each assigned cemetery. (Legion posts cooperated to cover the country cemeteries.) They stood in formation for a short prayer. Then two my two, they escorted young girls (and boy scouts) to each grave to lay a spray of evergreen with poppies. When the decorating was complete — they fired three volleys — and a lone bugle played “Taps”.

Later in the day there were speeches and food and lots and lots of visiting.

Father and daughter ready for the ceremonies.

Memorial Day celebrations have changed a little through the years in this small town. Fewer veterans are decorating more graves. The children dress more casual. The band is smaller. But the emotions in the families watching, waiting, listening to the volleys and shivering at “Taps” stays constant.

2 responses to “A Strong Tradition

  1. As I’ve thought before, the Plum City veterans celebration of Memorial Day was much more elegant than in Pepin. Girls in white dresses laying evergreens and flowers seemed so formal. All I recall were wool hot band uniforms and a few band members playing badly, a few elderly veterans, Mom, the reader of a patriotic piece, in her later years. What went through my mind. Would the trumpet player fall out of the tree playing taps? Could someone be shot in the gun volleys?

  2. Trumpet player stepped out of formation and walked into the woods. No injuries during the gun volleys. But eager boys after the brass almost tripped a couple veterans.

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