Happy Memorial Day
A Memorial Day Story
I am sitting here, staring at a blank page. I am supposed to write a story related to Memorial Day. But what to write, that is the question? As a Vietnam vet, my view of the world on this day, meant to honor all who wore the uniform, is different than many who will read these words. Kahlil Gibran, a Lebanese writer from the 1920’s (wrote The Prophet) was quoted as having said “You’ve never lived until you’ve almost died. For those who have fought for it, life has a flavor the protected shall never know.” These words should be shouted at every Memorial Service in the land every year.
Every American who had, or has, the courage and dedication to put their life on hold, to put on the uniform, to learn how to shoot a rifle and either go to war or be willing to go to war, needs to be acknowledged and thanked on their special day that is celebrated as Memorial Day. In years past, Calumet Park would celebrate these special people with fireworks, cannon salutes, speeches and honor guards, and high school bands playing patriotic songs.
But this year, lost along with weddings, and graduations and funerals, such demonstrations of appreciation across the land as group settings will not happen. This year, the world is filled with isolation as the Covid-19 pandemic decimates young and old, rich and poor, white, black, brown and everything in-between, and will cause the death of thousands of people and thousands of businesses and jobs. Cemeteries are subject to the same social distancing as is required outside of their gates.
For sure, Calumet Park Cemetery will be open to the public for Memorial Day. Just as ‘for sure’, Calumet Park will not be able to honor our military and their families in the way that we would like. We will show our appreciation for those who keep us free, but in a different way. A special tribute to veterans is being produced that will come from the heart as a permanent tribute to those who served.
In a sense, the video tribute will be special in its own way as it will live on forever on the internet, once posted to our website (mycalumetpark.com). If all goes well, it will be up on the site by Memorial Weekend so please check in as the weekend for soldiers and families approaches.
Back to the blank page that is now nearly filled, please remember any vets in your family, or vets that you know, on this special day. Isolation is a way of life for so many people that were part of any war. They may walk around as though nothing is wrong, but many have self-isolated years ago. My brain is so compartmentalized and blocked by mental ‘pandemics’. I have managed to function in this world and even be successful at times. We all have ups and downs, things that can be controlled and things that are totally out of our control, and most people cope.
The world-wide pandemic that everyone is living through is being viewed on every TV screen. Some people are loving isolation, some are coping, and some may never recover. For veterans, to be locked up every day and every night with wartime experiences can be overwhelming. Pray for them. Pray for the ones you know and the ones you never met. There will be no chance to gather as a group this year, so group prayer will have to suffice.
Thank vets. Pray for vets. Hash-tag them in your prayer groups. God will listen, so offer your best thanks and wishes to all vets and to their families. Remember those MIA’s. Remember those in houses and apartments and living on the streets in despair. Remember the vets in the food lines. And remember them all year long and not just on Veterans Day or Memorial Day. There is power in thanksgiving and in prayer. As Gibran said, You have never lived until you have almost died…”