Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

I almost titled this post Happy Memorial Day. This is one of those holidays that shouldn't be prefaced with "Happy." We all say it...Happy Memorial Day. It's out of habit more than anything. Happy New Year, Happy Easter, Happy Fourth of July. But when you really think about it, there's nothing happy about what we're observing today. It's a solemn day, a day for remembrance and reflection, for gratitude toward those who gave their lives for us and our freedoms.

Several members of my family served in the military over the years. My grandfather was in the Army in World War I. So were his brothers. One of them didn't see much action. He spent most of his time in the guardhouse--but he did some impressive artwork while he was there.

My father served in the Army during World War II. He was a sharpshooter. He was given an honorable discharge after being injured--an injury the Army doctors told him would eventually put him in a wheelchair. It never happened.

Three uncles, Tony, Harry and Charlie, were in the Navy during that same war. They were all there the day the flag was raised on Iwo Jima--but didn't know the others were there. They were on three different ships. Uncle Harry, ever the wisecracker, had this to say about Japanese kamakazi pilots: "They're nuts. They're flying their planes at the ships, grinning the whole time. They thought dying was an honor!"

One cousin died before I was born--in the Korean War. I believe he was the only family member to die at war.

Four cousins served during the Vietnam War: Jim, Ron and Bob were all in the Air Force. Tommy was in the Marines.  Jim said they had a sign posted in their barracks: IF CAPTURED ASK TO BE TAKEN TO STALAG 13. Sorry, guys, but Hogan's Heroes was set in Germany--during World War II!

As far as I know, we haven't had anyone in the Middle East--though Jim did spend some time in Iran not long before the US Embassy was taken hostage.

To close, a  few photos from my last visit to Washington DC....




19 comments:

  1. I just LOVE D.C.! So lucky to live close to it these last few years. Great pics, Norma!

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  2. Thanks Norma. Sorry if I offended anyone by saying Happy Memorial Day on my blog-I guess I know everyone's barbecuing and getting together with family.
    My Uncle Johnny is buried in Arlington National Cemetery and my husband served five years in the U.S. Army. I lost many relatives due to war and I grew up on the painful stories. We are so lucky-God Bless the U.S.

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  3. You haven't offended anyone that I know of, Eve. I wrote this post last night when I was only half awake and didn't fully explain what I meant. I've corrected that mistake now, as you can see!

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  4. Don't ever worry about me-I am on your wavelength.
    Have a great day!

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  5. And you're one of the people I WANT on my wavelength!

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  6. My Uncle Wilbur's plane was shot down during Korea. He's MIA and presumed dead. The MIA must have been hell for Grandma and Aunt Hazel. Just the not knowing if he was in a POW camp somewhere. On a trip to D.C., we visited the Vietnam memorial. That wall was a powerful reminder.

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  7. Come to think of it, it is an awkward thing to say, Happy Memorial Day, when it really ought to be a day of reflection.

    Both sets of my grandparents were in the Netherlands during the Second World War. They lived under Nazi occupation, and owe their lives to being liberated by Allied soldiers, in this case Canadian troops. So by extension, I owe my life to those men too. It's something that always stays with me.

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  8. I think we all owe them, directly or indirectly.

    So that's how you came to be born Canadian?

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  9. Pretty much. The choice was made by both sets to immigrate to Canada influenced by that.

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  10. That's something you should write about.

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  11. Well done. We should remember all the wars and our soldiers who fight. Excellent blog.

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  12. That's a wonderful tribute, Norma. I hope you had a lovely reflective Memorial Day.

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  13. I didn't know you'd made a Memorial Day blog until just now...

    None of my family (that I know of) has served in any of the wars, but I know some have in Chris's family. Still, not that many.

    However, as I posted on Karla's blog, we have the "Highway of Heros" which is the main highway that runs most of Ontario...and between Trenton (the Air Force base) and Toronto, they've renamed the highway to the this...and the bridges, overpasses are always filled to capacity with people waving Canadian flags as the hearst of a fallen soldier is brought through...for example, today, a Canadian soldier will be coming back home...and again, the bridges and overpasses will be filled with tearful and thankful Canadians...

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  14. We don't have memorial day over here, we have Remembrance Sunday. Same idea but comes across as very different. Memorial Sunday seems to be about spending time with family and have a day off, and ours is about two minutes silences in the rain. That comes off as an insult probably, I don't mean it to be. Same origins, the memory of people who fought in our wars.

    My grandad was in the Royal Marines, and my aunt in the first gulf war.

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  15. Rhi, I don't find it at all insulting. Sometimes I think our holidays have become too commercialized, that we lose sight of their true meaning. Thank you for sharing your customs with us.

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  16. I don't have a problem with people saying Happy Memorial Day -- I know none of them mean it the wrong way.

    I had one uncle in the Navy and one in the Air Force, both career men. Their father, my grandfather, was in a supply unit that landed at Normandy in WW2. Although in theory he worked behind the lines, he didn't like to talk about his experiences over there -- a sure sign that he saw some heavy action.

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  17. Awesome pic Norma. My Grandfather was in the Air Force in its infancy. I went to join but at the time my vision wasn't correctable to 20/20 so they wouldn't take me. Now it corrects to 20/10. Go figure. My father actually missed the draft to Vietnam by two numbers.

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  18. Beautiful photos, Norma!

    I really popped over to say 'thank you' for your support during my A-Z blogging month. I've created a fun "no strings attached" blog award for you and all of the other awesome bloggers who offered feedback and encouragement.

    You can view the award and my thank you note here:
    http://the-open-vein-ejwesley.blogspot.com/2011/06/im-back-bringing-love.html

    Hope you are well and that I see you around in the future!

    EJ

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