Memorial Day was never just a day off work for my family, because so many members of my family were in the service...all but me, actually. Medical and health issues kept me from service, but never diminished the pride I feel for those who served.
This year, we're in Rochester, MN, at Mayo Clinic, and I cannot be with my family. We attended the Memorial Day ceremonies at Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial, and I found it moving and reassuring to see a community give honor and recognition to its veterans, both the living and the lost. The memorial is a beautiful structure of granite walls, etched with battle scenes from all major U.S. wars. The memorial was packed, so I stood outside, peering over a wall, with several hundred other visitors and veterans. Their solemnity and pride made this a special Memorial Day.
Memorial Day 2011
I watched them march, peering over the wall,
The proud veterans and their families.
They were gathered together, one and all,
For music, and singing, and homilies,
Recounting the valor and sacrifice,
And the giving of the last full measure,
By their sons and daughters, in the service
Of their country's freedom, timeless treasure
Requiring constant vigilance as cost.
Their faces, unsmiling, were filled with pride,
Through speeches focused on those that were lost,
In wars where their young neighbors fought and died.
I stood and I watched, an unremarked guest,
As they remembered their brightest and best.