Memorial Day and Our Family Traditions
By Lili Richey Willard |
Posted 12:43 pm on May 30, 2011
Today is Memorial Day, 2011. Comes and goes every year, no matter what events are going on, if we are war or not, regardless of the weather or our health. And here it is once again.
Memorial Day is one of my favorite holidays. Always has been. One reason is because I have fond memories of early mornings, helping my daddy take the big pottery vases off the long shelf that was part of the inside foundation of our garage, rinsing them out with the garden hose, and then filling them with whatever floral blessings were currently blooming in our yard. My mom always made sure we had alot of those.
It was quite often lilacs, and I can remember standing patiently while Mom or Dad would clip them from the tall bushes, handing them to me to put into the vases. Sometimes it would be a mixture, depending on the weather. Iris's were a favoite, and branches of forsythia. Whatever it was, there was fragrance and color.
Then we would load the vases with their prizes into the trunk of the car, and head off to the cemetery where most of our family members were buried. There, we would park by the family plot and unload the vases. There was an old water pump near the road we parked on, so we would take them one by one, Mom and I, and Daddy would fill them with water, then we would take them, also one by one, and place them on each family member's grave.
Several of the men had military honors on their graves. Each of those would have little American flags there, something the Veterans's organization did every year. I remember one relative in particular, his name was Allen. I had never met him because he had died in a car accident many years before I was born. He had been to war, was home in the US, and was driving back to Ohio when the accident that took his life happened. He was very young, just in his twenties. I remember my daddy talking about how the family was literally crushed by the death. He had extra military signs and honors on his grave, because Daddy told us he was a true war hero.
We would pause at each grave, taking a moment to think about those who had gone on before, what they had contributed to the family, friends and the community, and then Daddy would pray. Not for the dead, but for all of us left, and for the legacy that was left to us. Honor, duty, love of God and country, love for family and friends. Love for life.
And though I did not know hardly any of those people buried there, I felt imbued with a pride in my ancestry, something I still feel today. Something I hope, no, I know, is instilled in my children. For I have three patriotic kids who love their country, a girl and two boys. She is raising children who also love their country. The boys have served their country, and are still serving it. They may be going back to war again. But I have the peace of knowing the tradition of honoring our families, our veterans, our country, will live on in my family long after I am gone.
I sometimes venture into that same cemetery, to visit those same graves, and now also the grave of my Daddy, who had established that 'honoring with flowers' tradition long before he met my mother. And as I stand there, I can almost hear the pottery vases clicking against each other, see and hear Daddy pumping the handle of the old pump, (now replaced with a modern faucet) and if I close my eyes tight enough and stay quiet for just a moment, I can hear the prayers, and feel like they are being said once again. After all, in my heart they really are!
Please enjoy Memorial Day..this year and every year. Start your own traditions, or keep your family's traditions going. It's worth it...it's freedom.
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