As Memorial Day approaches I start to meditate on what Memorial Day is all about. By definition, “Memorial Day is a National Holiday observed on the last Monday of May each year. It commemorates U.S. soldiers who died while in the military service.”
When I was growing up in Oklahoma, it was known as Decoration Day. We paid tribute to those service men and woman who gave their lives in defense of this great country of ours. Not only did we remember our service members, but it was a time to remember family members who had passed on.
My childhood memories of Memorial Day go back before plastic flowers and wreaths blanketed the cemeteries. My folks wouldn’t have ever thought of putting any type of artificial decoration or wreath on a gravesite. Usually a day or two before Memorial Day, it was off to the fields to gather wild flowers. Any type of blooming flower, even vetch was gathered in large quantities.
It was then back to our “smokehouse” which would be transformed into a floral shop. There the folks would carefully craft a bouquet for each family member or friend whose grave we would decorate. Each bouquet was wrapped in wet newspaper to keep the flowers from drying out. Then the “arrangements” would be placed in a tub with cool water, and then placed in the trunk of the car.
Our first stop was usually at “Gram Cottom’s” home. We would visit with family for a short time and then over to the local cemetery. My Dad had grown up in this town, so many of my Dad’s relatives and friends were buried here. At the cemetery we would decorate graves, but also my Dad would meet and visit many old friends. It was not only a time of remembering the deceased, but also the living reminiscing about times past.
From the cemetery it was back to “Gram’s House” for food and fellowship with family. The table was always loaded with good high cholesterol, high fat food. Food like fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, roast beef, baked beans and deserts to numerous to mention. After time to let the food digest, it was on to other cemeteries.
Today is not the same for most of us. It’s a trip to Hobby Lobby or Wal-Mart to pick up some artificial flowers and wreathes. Then it’s often a quick trip to the cemeteries to pay what oftentimes is just an obligatory visit. We’ll maybe see a few old friends, but for the most part it is: clean the headstones and place the flowers or wreathes and be on our way.
For others, it’s not even a trip to a cemetery. Memorial Day typically kicks off “summer vacation”. Since it falls on a Monday, it makes for a long weekend and many take advantage of the long weekend for boating and general relaxation.
Because of the sacrifice of our fallen soldiers and many others, we live in the greatest nation in the world! We have the freedom to choose how we want to celebrate Memorial Day.
Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, please take time to remember the sacrifices made by all those that have gone before us to protect and preserve this great nation. As you are enjoying your holiday weekend, please be safe. Whether on the lake, in the park, on the road or just hanging around the house please be careful. We don’t want you to be someone we are visiting next year to decorate your grave.
From all of us here at RCI Insurance Group we hope you have a carefree and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend.