Thursday, May 26, 2011

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! By Pat Kinsella Herdeg

Memorial Day is upon us, and many of us look forward to barbeques and cottages, tending to our yards, flowers and grass, and just generally enjoying the ‘official beginning of summer’.

But, let’s also remember what Memorial Day stands for:

“Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead.”--- From--

And, a poem—

Freedom Is Not Free ---By Kelly Strong
I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
and then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
He'd stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers' tears?
How many pilots' planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, freedom isn't free.

I heard the sound of TAPS one night,
When everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That TAPS had meant "Amen,"
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn't free.

We’ve written of a few of our relatives who have died during wartime—Daniel Mott at Second Bull Run was a recent story. So, as you pass by your local cemetery on your way to a picnic, take a few minutes and stop in to remember and thank those who died to keep us free and safe.

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend, everyone!


Kathryn said...

When I was a teen, I went to the Center Lisle cemetary with my Grandma, Lillian Howland. We went to a bunch of graves (relatives) and cleaned them off and planted flowers. As the summer wore on, we would go up there and do upkeep on the flowers- watering and deadheading them. I loved it. Whenever I get back to Center Lisle I go visit them all. But now Grandma is one of them. I still love it. I have stood at my Mom's grave and told her off for not being here anymore. I knelt at Wendell's grave and told him how much I miss him. He is right near Grandma. I am glad of that.
Some times, when I was visiting, Joyce and I would visit different cemetaries. Lots of relatives! Love it!!

On a Memorial Day side -
Thank you Pat for pointing out the reason we celebrate Memorial Day. It has turned into a picnic day for many. Sometimes I feel like the military is ignored. Thank you for pointing them out.

Pat said...


Loved your story of visiting the Center Lisle cemetery. Wish I were closer to do the same thing.

I think veterans like you do at times think that the country has forgotten you, and gone on with our lives, but I hope that is not true. We DO owe so much to our veterans, and yes, Weekends like this are the perfect time to reflect and remember, and give thanks.


Diana said...

I spent Memorial Day doing 2 things - First my marching band has a reunion every 5 years - we practice and march in the Camillus Memorial Day parade -

Then I went to Tim and Rosemary's and interrupted deck construction to have lunch and visit with Aunt CB and Uncle Jack - dummies that we were - we did not take a picture inspite of several cameras being around - Sorry!

Pat said...


I hear Ma and Pa had a terrific time visiting with you.

Thanks for thinking of them.

And, what a video--over 400 alums coming back to march is so impressive!

Thanks for sharing that!