Tag Archives: veterans

In this moment of remembrance…

1 Jun

Memorial Day has always a special day for me–not just because I’m a Navy brat–but because this was always a big event for me growing up. Doubly so since we didn’t have a ceremony last year, so I had to make sure to get out and celebrate the moment.

In my hometown, Memorial Day involved a whole parade. Since I was in band in middle and high school, we were always marching in the parade, playing roughly the same songs they had done for the past couple decades. In fact, the middle school band had done the same cadence for so long, the high school drummers decided to copy it at the end of the parade, which was freaking hilarious. There was veterans on floats, older veterans in classic cars, and other floats with people lining the streets from downtown out to the ceremony. Then there was a prayer, some speeches, and then two trumpeters played Taps and the Legion honor guard did a 21-gun salute.

Once I moved to the big city, it was a lot harder to find something similar. There’s not always a parade, if there’s a ceremony, it’s harder to find, and you had to struggle to get there. The one in Mesa is really good… but I couldn’t be sure they were actually having it this year. So I went to the one in South Phoenix–and as tends to be my experience–always get lost and arrive five minutes late. But I got there, put on my garrison cap (it’s the same as the American Legion hats, but light blue for the Sons of the AL, which I’m a member of), and sat in the back. Because May 31st is the beginning of Arizona summer, we got to sit under shade, which with a 100-degree heat, is kinda necessary.

There were prayers, speeches, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, singing the national anthem and God Bless America… what I’ve come to expect for an event. It’s moving, it’s part of the ceremony. There were two things different which really amazed me. One was the rifle-and-helmet memorial; which I had seen the image of many times, but never actually seen performed.

When someone takes a rifle and stabs it into the ground near you (bayonet first), it make an impression. Then placing the boots, hanging the dog tags, and then places the helmet on top. Then came the second unexpected thing; the flyover. There were four antique planes that flew above us, and as they came, they performed the missing man formation–where one of the planes pulls up to symbolize the pilot who is no longer with us. Very cool.

Then I went home, and after some kerfuffle, went to my Legion Post to celebrate. It was a great time hanging with my drinking buddies, met a few more, and watched John Wick 2 on the TV while I drank and smoke. But even there, we had a moment of silence at 3 pm, to remember those who had left. Simple, but very moving.

So it wasn’t my hometown experience, but I’ve found joy in hanging with veterans on this day, and enjoying myself. Do you have a similar story? Is there a national holiday that you find more moving than others? Let me know in the comments below! Then if you’ve got time, check out one of my books. However, if $1.99 is too steep for your wallet, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. You’ll be glad you did.

Lest We Forget

21 Mar

One of my favorite words in the English language is “cenotaph,” a memorial for someone who died but NOT at a gravesite. There’s lots of these, and most of the time, our eyes glaze over these. So who are these memorials for?

I personally love statues–as a history buff, I like to be reminded about what had happened in the past, and find out more. As a Navy brat, I honor those who served. However, not everyone thinks the same way as I do. We make a lot less statues these days. So when you find a memorial, it’s usually much older.

They’re also not cheap. Which means someone thought enough of this person(s) to raise the money for them. Veterans memorials are easy to understand. Those who served want people to know that their neighbors gave their lives in a conflict that they themselves served in. It’s a chance for them to remember their brothers and sisters who didn’t come back. It’s hard to do that; I’m a member of a veterans’ organization, and at the bar every night at 7 pm, there’s a toast that everyone repeats:

To those that went,
To those who are there still,
To those who have not returned,
To those who never will.

7 o’Clock Toast

It is a very moving, very simple ceremony, and I love participating when I can. However, you want to know that your sacrifice was honored, which is why the WWII memorial in DC was so important. Veterans were flown out to see their memorial.

However, then there are the memorials to those who died a long time before. Take a less controversial example – the Alamo Cenotaph. This was built in 1936 to honor the Battle of the Alamo a hundred years before. So they died and any kids of theirs had died long ago. So what were they celebrating? Statehood? History? Sure, but there’s a more insidious remembrance of that. They were saying, “We’re Texas. We won our independence, and we’re still independent!” On the other end of the spectrum, it’s not an accident that California’s flag says “California Republic” (even though they didn’t even bother with a war… or a government lasting longer than a month).

But what the father wants to remember, the son wants to forget. Trust me, if someone put up a statue to honor the Capital Hill occupation in Seattle last year, fifty years from now, some group would want to tear it down because the protestors were “slaveholders” of dogs and cats, and ate the flesh of animals for their food.

As you can see, I’m torn on the issue of memorials. I certainly don’t want one for myself. But what do you think? Are statues a waste of time; better to honor the living than the dead? Or do they serve a purpose in our society, regardless of their intent? Let me know in the comments below!

And after that, why not check out one of my books! Or if the $1.99 is too rich for your blood, download some of my stories. You’ll be glad you did.

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