Memorial Day, May 26, 2008
...early morning is too brief in my case. Especially at this time of year when cardinals (and company) wake me and sunrise is just the right temperature for those of us who have perpetually cold hands and feet. I don’t celebrate Memorial Day the way I used to or, by some standards, the way I should. I sleep a little later and am not fond of public gatherings in New Milford that invariably require a plan of travel, where to park and how to jockey for a seat from which you can actually see something. Our town harbors the delusion that it is still small, but an event here is more like the privilege of saying you were at a ball game or concert in person and yet coming away having seen and heard less than if you had watched it on TV. When my children were little and we lived on Main Street in Terryville across from the town green, they played with their toys in the living room until we could hear the marching band up the street. Then we’d grab some chairs and go out on the front lawn with our elderly landlady. My late uncle, one of a dwindling group of World War II vets, would march by practically within touching distance, wink at us and we’d wave back. The parade was just long enough for the attention spans of my children and to get the point across, then we’d usually have a picnic at my parents’ house at the other end of Main Street. Saying that, I just now realize that it is possible to live inside a Norman Rockwell painting! As a school child, Memorial Day in my hometown of Terryville was a key event. All of us scouts lined up with our troops at the grocery store parking lot in the north end of town. It was a big deal who would be asked to carry the flags for each troop and who would get to read the poem Flander’s Field when parade participants and spectators stood in respect around the war memorial on the town green. Back then, the parade took a much longer route around town (several miles that were unkind to the 1960’s penny-loafers we all wore with our Brownie skirts and white ankle socks) and after the reading of the poem, the older scouts would continue on to the cemetery to hear Taps. If you made it through all that and still had your uniform on, you could go down to the Eagle’s hall where they handed out free vanilla Skippy cups with wooden spoons. Today, I will observe Memorial Day perhaps not so reverently as I have in the past, but in the closest way I know right now at this place in my life. I will plant a garden. I will regenerate, protect and perpetuate. I will try to be a soldier for our earth. I will try to be a good one.