ELDER MUSIC: 1958 Yet Again
The Ordinary Artifacts of Everyday Life

Memorial Day 2016

Today, we honor the men and women who have died while serving in America's armed forces. Today, there will be parades in thousands of cities and towns throughout the country. Today, there will also be the annual National Memorial Day Concert on the west lawn of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Check your local CSPAN listings.)

The Indianapolis 500 auto race is also a Memorial Day weekend tradition – this year is the 100th running. (I don't understand why these two events are related but then, I'm not a sports fan so what I do I know.)

Most of all, we Americans spend the holiday with family and friends often at backyard barbecues, and many will also visit the graves of loved ones killed in our wars. In that regard, I ran across a poignant story about two U.S. airmen who went missing in action in Laos in 1969 during the Vietnam War. At last, in 2012, the crash site was discovered and the men's remains identified.

A dual burial was held at Arlington National Cemetery in 2013, but due to budget cuts, the Air Force could not perform a flyover during the funeral. That's when some civilians stepped in to make the flyover happen. Here's the report from a local TV news program:

In addition to the remembrances and barbecues, we have one more Memorial Day tradition: nighttime fireworks displays. This one from last year at Wolf Trap.

Enjoy the holiday, my U.S. friends.

For readers in other countries, tell us something about your holidays that honor your war dead.


Thanks for this post. And thanks for asking. On the eve of Memorial Day for Israel's fallen soldiers and civilian victims of terror, a siren sounds from 8:00 P.M. to 8:01 P.M. across Israel. National flags are lowered to half-mast and begins a full day of personal and national meditation, reflection, remembrance ceremonies, and continuous special TV and radio programs. On Memorial Day morning, a second siren blast sounds from 11:00 A.M. to 11:01 A.M. At the sound of each siren blast, almost everyone and everything come to a complete halt. From small streets to major high-speed highways, vehicles stop and drivers and passengers exit and stand still. In streets, homes, schools, and workplaces, people stand, frozen. With a citizen army, almost no Israeli home, family, office, school, or unit of any kind has been spared loss and pain directly, often multiple times. And the mood is solemn.

At sunset, the Israeli flags are raised from half-mast position, marking the transition from grief to celebration as the country rings in its Independence Day. Not by accident does Memorial Day for Israel's fallen soldiers and victims of terror immediately precede Independence Day.

Thanks Tamar for your post. That sounds so much more civilized than the "celebrations" here in the US. It's a mish mosh of parades, barberques & fireworks. But many of us are just doing the little parades to the cemetary for a gun salute & then a quiet day at home.

As I've aged, I've become more acutely aware of the loss from wars .............all wars & I tear up a lot. My grandmom always had a star flag in her window for someone in our big family who was serving. Those were sad days. I believe some prayers are in order for me. I hope all enjoy the day in some way. :) Dee

My entry is from the U. S. A., but is of another time. I know many of your readers will remember this and probably better than I do. The day was more solemn as I recall. The day was also called "Decoration Day."

Bar-b-cues were never a part of Memorial Day when I was a child. My family always took flowers to the graves of our departed and after that the younger ones would go on a picnic, As I recall, only one drug store in town was open for emergency medication and some gas stations were open, but all other businesses were closed.

Buddy poppies were sold and almost everyone had a flag flying. I don't know whether there were parades or not, but believe there were, although we never went to one.

WWII was in the future, so the dead that were being honored were from WWI and the Civil War. My maternal great-grandfathers fought in that war and were buried in my home town so their graves were of great importance to my family.

My strongest memory of Memorial Day was that, in our household, it had nothing to do with the military. My mother was a strong pacifist and greatly influenced me in that way -- and what she did on Memorial Day was to memorialize the family dead. We always visited my father's grave and took along flowers for it -- and for the small grave next to his, a child whom my parents knew who died in infancy.

And we talked about the family members who had died. And even though some of them were no doubt soldiers, that was never stressed. It was the sorrow at losing people often much too young [my father was only 47, not a soldier], and how much she missed them - and kept them alive for me by telling me stories about them..

It was a quiet sort of day, and yet I, as wiggly as I always was, remember it so strongly as a day for memories and stories and deeply felt sadness in my mother.

This is going to be a long one.

Canadians recognize Remembrance Day on November 11, at 11 a.m. The day marks the end of hostilities during WW One. We remember those who served and those who died defending our nation.

We also remember our allies.

Schools have special assemblies, speeches, a moment of silence for those who gave their lives for our freedom.

Ceremonies are held, poppies are worn over the heart.

The poem "In Flanders Field," is recited.

Ottawa holds a ceremony at the National War Memorial.

Closer to home is "The Highway of Heroes," which is marked by signs bearing a large red poppy. I drive that highway most days and think about my grandfather who fought in WW One and had pieces of shrapnel in his cheek as a constant reminder of his service.

My grandfather is buried in a military section of a graveyard not far from my home.

He had huge capable hands. One Christmas he gave me a wooden trunk which he made, complete with a lock and key. My grandmother filled that trunk with hand made doll clothes.

Grandpa owned a renovation business. He helped my dad build our first family home. Recently that home was sold, and the new owners keep telling my mom, who lives in our second family home, that the house was built right.

The new owner invited us in to look around. He even found a shoe which one of us wore. We stared at that shoe and tried to guess who wore it,

Lots of history in that house built by my father, grandfather, brothers, cousins.
I even helped my dad put wood floors down in the upstairs bedrooms.

I respect military veterans and make it a point to shake their hand and thank them for their service.

We saw a tv documentary in Florida about military veterans who returned home with PTSD. A young ex-military couple bought some land, adopted dogs from shelters and connected the ex soldiers with a dog.

Some of the vets didn't even want to go see the dogs, but once they were coaxed to the farm, and mingled with the dogs, eventually a dog would warm up to a soldier or vice versa.

This connection did not happen overnight, however once a vet partnered up with a selected dog, life improved for the vet, his or her family and the dog.

This might sound weird to some, but I was bawling like a baby when one soldier brought his newly adopted dog home.

I feel fortunate to live in a country that stands up to bullies.

In Australia (and New Zealand) it's Anzac Day – the 25th of April. This is the day in 1915 when our troops, along with British, French and Indians invaded Turkey at Gallipoli. They encountered fierce resistance from the Turks (after all, it was their country) and was a total disaster that led to withdrawal a few months later. Australians are fond of celebrating failures.

Our annual Memorial Day BBQ was a washout here at the ALF.
We had to settle for a rather mediocre half-hearted attempt at an indoor event.
But not using the gas BBQ grill was probably a good thing, as there was a sparrow's nest with four tiny speckled eggs inside.
I hope they hatch before our next cookout.

Actually Ronni - here in Perth Western Australia we hold a major ceremony on your Rememberance Day to honour US soldiers - it is held with full honours at our beautiful War Memorial in Kings Park - apparently we are the only city in Australia to do so - just thought US readers might like to know that your fallen service men and women are not forgotten here.

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