It's hard to believe it's already Memorial Day weekend, and I remind myself that this is not a mere three-day weekend for traveling and grilling and welcoming the start of the summer season. The key words to remember are not "three-day" nor "weekend," but rather "Memorial Day." I'm spending the day reflecting in preparation for my remarks to the Memorial Day service in West Fargo at their VFW Post on Monday. It helps to cement the day's meaning in my mind.
Growing up as a kid, I remember loading up in our big, old, dusty four-door car to go to the cemetery a few days before Memorial Day to plant flowers and wash off headstones on the graves of family members -- had to have things looking respectful for the day of respect. People would walk by to see the flags marking the many veterans, including of the Taylor and Dokken graves in our family plots:
Fay Taylor, N.D. National Guardsman killed by poison gas in WWI in the hard fought Meuse Argonne Offensive; Reinhart Dokken, WWII veteran of the Pacific Theatre, killed after the war in a car accident at the age of 27; and, now, my father, Marshall Taylor (whose picture I've included), WWII combat veteran of New Guinea, the Philippines and the occupation of Japan, granted a full life after the war to pass at the age of 88.
Those three and so many more in our hometown cemetery and other cemeteries around this state, country and world, are the meaning of Memorial Day for me. I'll remember them as I speak in West Fargo on Monday. I'll tell their stories to my children. We will thank our veterans, passed and living, for their service -- not only with our words, but with our actions as we care for their needs in this homeland that they served and as we help to heal their wounds, both seen and unseen.
May your Memorial Day be a special time with friends and neighbors and memories.