Memorial Day is one of those interesting days where you don’t know whether to celebrate or mourn: mourn the loss of life, or celebrate the freedom those lives earned. Some will mourn, especially those families who lost loved ones, others will celebrate and give not a thought to meaning of the day, I choose to do both.
In a few hours I will go down to the Courthouse to set up for our ceremony. I don’t know how many years we have been doing this but it has been many. I recall when the news reporters would come to our ceremony because it was the only one being held. Now, others have their ceremonies but ours remains essentially the same, unchanged, simple, solemn. The weather looks like rain but it should not be raining at 1100, the time our ceremony begins. Regardless, we will have the dedicated citizens out to join us. I hope the clouds will keep the temperatures down.
Since the War of the Revolution, America has lost more than 1.3 million lives in defense of our country and preservation of our principles around the globe. Many of those paid the ultimate sacrifice did so holding strong beliefs in the cause for which they were fighting. Others, especially recently, may not have believed so much in the cause as they did in their country; they were called to serve, and they served.
Those of us who are old enough to remember Vietnam, likely remember someone who died there. Although I was only eight years old, I recall the son of a neighbor, the only son, who died. David Wayne Parker lived across the street and, although we did not know the family well, I recall the green Army staff car visiting the house several days. I was to learn later that he was on a patrol one night and was crossing a river. When the squad got to the other bank, he was not with them. He was presumed to have drowned and his body was never recovered.
Then there is William Newton Johnson, the brother of a friend, who died when I was only 7 and long before I had met my friend. He died of small arms fire in South Vietnam as a 2nd Lieutenant.
For those who consider today to be nothing more than a vacation, enjoy it, the price of that enjoyment has been paid by others. For those who give deeper meaning to today than simply a day off work, join me at 1100 and let’s both mourn and celebrate the lives of these brave people.