Our grandsons attended their first Memorial Day tribute to Veterans. Their mom wanted her boys to understand it’s not just a long weekend to kick off summer. She wanted a more personal experience than a parade and flag waving.
They were camping at our weekend place with us so we all attended a small and poignant ritual presented by the local Oregon chapter of the American Legion.
We arrived at a historic and small cemetery on a windswept hill outside of the town of Wamic, OR, a little before the 9:30AM ceremony. There were a variety of gravestone designs and sizes, surrounded by individualized gardens, bushes, or well tended grass. It was almost like a maze where there was something new to see around each tree. Small American flags were placed by the stones that marked the grave of a veteran who served their country and returned home.
This was the first of three ceremonies and all included the flag procession, short tribute prayers, a 21 gun salute (historic rifles!), and “Taps” played clean and clear on a real bugle. Red silk poppies were distributed to be added to the flags on the veterans graves.
Memorial Day is not just about the soldiers who were killed in battle, but for all those who served. Like my dad and his brothers who served in WWII, and all three returned home and returned to their lives, established careers, married and had families. They were proud to have served but considered their military duty as a short phase in the years of their lives.
Our grandsons were interested and respectful, as it was charming, heartfelt, and comforting. I’m sure the boys will remember it even if they don’t make it an annual ritual in their lives. But now they know what Memorial Day means in the USA. Regardless of what their future experiences may be regarding war, they will have a memory of paying tribute to the military personnel that served their country with patriotism and honor.