Sunday, May 24, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

I can remember a couple times when our family would load into the car and work our way around the small cemeteries of Nebraska and Kansas. We'd stop at the plots of our family members and leave some flowers then move to the next on our list.

As a child, this was a bit boring. As I got older I regretted that I did not do it more.

Last year, long after being recruited I finally joined the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War. My 3rd Great Grandfather was in the 171st Pennsylvania in 1862 & 63. This genealogical fact helped me win a scholarship back in high school and 13 years later I decided I'd waited long enough to join the order.

This was my first Memorial Day with the Sons and I was happy for it. They weren't my own family, but they were veterans of wars that allowed me to have the life I have. For a couple hours I strolled around the Mountain View Cemetery placing flags and flowers at the graves of the Union veterans. This was followed by a short ceremony, a tradition handed down through the years.

We were told stories about the cemetery and the souls resting there. Thaddeus Lowe, his wife Leontine and Eliza Johnston came to life through dedicated storytellers and impersonators. The Confederate sons did a three volley salute.

It felt right. It wasn't just about a day off or grilling in the park. It was about the men and women that bequeathed this country to us.

I shouldn't have waited so long.

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