Memorial Day is a day we set aside to show gratitude for and remember those who lost their lives while protecting our country. I come from a family where many of my grandparents and great-uncles were in the military, though we were lucky in that most returned home safely.
Each year on Memorial Day, my grandmother used to take me and my sister to the large cemetery in town. We would stop on the way and buy flowers and then we would walk solemnly to her brother’s grave sites and place flowers and say a few words for them. She would tell us stories about them, about the things they did and how they lived and died. She cried some years, other years she was stoic, but her sadness often shone through.
These outings almost never went as planned. My grandma could never find the florist on the first or second try and then usually once we found the florist, finding her brother’s graves was always another journey. But my Grandma was focused, she would honor her brothers for their sacrifices, she would not let us forget about those who came before us.
It’s been 9 years since my Grandma died and probably 15 years since I last went to that cemetery with her to visit her brothers. She now rests in a nearby plot of earth and I’m somewhat comforted that she is near her brothers who she loved so dearly. But I find that on Memorial Day, my mind goes to her. To all the years that she taught us how important this day is, how to honor her brothers and the others who gave their lives for our freedom.
Today we remember those who fought for us, those who lost their lives so that we could have ours. We remember them, we remember their families and we honor their legacies.
And today like many others days, I remember her. I remember my Grandma for teaching me about Memorial Day, for reminding me to thank our servicemen and women. I remember her for all the ways she honored her brothers and the way she reminded us to be thankful for sacrifices that were made long before we were even born. I remember her for her bravery, for growing up without her brothers and for her sense of duty to them.
And I miss her, deeply, as I know others are missing their family members today. And just as she would want, I am grateful for the sacrifices made by families all over this country to give me the freedoms that I so often take for granted.
May they rest in peace, may they have sisters who tell their stories to new generations so that their memories, their bravery and their lives will never be forgotten.