Monday, May 31, 2010

Honor and Duty... and so much more

Memorial Day.

A day to relax by the pool, put your feet up and enjoy time spent with family and friends.

That's what it has become.
That's not REALLY what it's for... although don't get me wrong, I do as much of that as the next gal!

Memorial Day... Memory Day... A day to Remember the WHOs and WHATs and WHEREs that made us, as a nation, able to spend time pursuing the joys of our family and friends.

Those men who stood up and fought for US-- as in us, the citizens of the United States, and US as in Uncle Sam... those who stormed the beaches of Normandy in June 1944, who fought in the jungles on Viet Nam in the early 60's, and those who fought in the corn fields, valleys and forests of this nation during the American Revolution, the Civil War... and all the periods of civil unrest through out our nation's short, but poignant history.

Saturday ManBoy, BratChild and SIX walked in a local Memorial Day Parade as representatives of Freemasonry, Order of Rainbow for Girls, and DeMolay.

SIX, my 11 1/2 year old youngest son and our 6th child, took turns carrying the DeMolay banner with another young DeMolay over the course of the 1 mile parade route.
At the onset of the parade, well, at the staging area actually, the boys saw several men in full military uniform and wearing baseball caps with their ship or service on them. I explained that they were Veterans of WW II, Korea, Viet Nam, Desert Storm and those currently serving in the military.

During the parade I saw that each boy, when not carrying the banner, would go up to men along the parade route and shake hands with the men in uniform and wearing the hats I had pointed out earlier.

Six and CC were thanking the soldiers for their service with a smile and a firm handshake. One older gentleman wearing a WWII cap burst into tears when SIX asked to shake his hand. Six was taken aback. He thought he had done something wrong, when in reality, he had done exactly the right thing for this lone man sitting in his wheelchair on his front lawn watching his hometown parade, just as he has probably done for 40 years or longer.

I saw a young Marine, in full dress uniform salute one of the Masons marching with ManBoy as he passed. In my mind's eye I saw MW, ManBoy's childhood friend, who is himself a Marine who has done service in Iraq. Pride filled my heart as the tears filled my eyes.

As we passed the Grand Marshall our groups were announced and met with much applause and approval. And SIX and CC were astounded to hear the man I had seen saluted being thanked for his service on D-Day on Omaha Beach.

When we returned to the lodge after the parade for lunch, CC approached this man and asked if it was true.
"No", the man replied. "He got it wrong. I wasn't at Omaha, I had an easy time of it. I hit land at Utah Beach."

CC and SIX shook his hand and told him thank you.

And they meant it.

And I was so very proud of an 11 and a 13 year old boy, who showed in that one short morning of community duty, the men they are becoming.

My heart swelled with pride and my eyes filled with tears and I thought...

Charlie and Kurt would be so very proud of them, their little brothers.

I know I am.

PS- I read a post at Blue Cotton Memory yesterday... it's full of wonderful quotes by George Washington, Ronald Reagan, GW Bush, and my all-time favorite, Dwight Eisenhower.
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