This morning, in Smalltown, U.S.A., we dropped our middle-school aged children off at the school to gather their instruments and board the bus going to the tiny cemetery just outside of town. Meeting them there, we joined the quiet reverence that enveloped the place as the ceremony began, and the loosely uniformed men and women that once dedicated their lives to protect our nation set about in their task to pay homage to their fallen comrades. After a brief, yet heartfelt speech, a twenty-one gun salute, a perfect rendition of Taps, and a prayer…..yes, a prayer to our God, and the national anthem, we headed back into town for the Memorial Day parade.
You see, in Smalltown, U.S.A., the parade route is not very long. It began at the local ice cream shop, then wound downtown and around the corner to the bridge. There, the second ceremony of the day honored the members of the U.S. Navy with a rousing rendition of Anchors Aweigh, flowers set into the water, another twenty-one gun salute, and once again, Taps. After that, the procession about-faced and marched a block away to the V.F.W. post for a ceremony dedicated to the unknown soldiers who died for our freedom, (and yes, there was another prayer). Finally, the parade ended up at the small cemetery in town, where another ceremony, almost like the first (including yet another prayer), save for a flyover by WWII era fighter planes, ended the morning’s dedications. Then, the majority of the crowd gathered back at the local V.F.W. for hot dogs, chips, and drinks.
Now, if you live in a large city, this may seem passé, almost “backwoods”. But to the people in Smalltown, this is an extremely important part of the day. Honoring the ones that gave all so we could have the blessings that this great nation has to offer helps us to never forget the sacrifice, and it teaches our children to never take our freedom for granted. Petty arguments were set aside; stresses and daily problems took a back seat to the events that unfolded throughout the morning. Hearts were brought together in reverent respect for the living and the fallen heroes that took a stand to ensure our freedom. We stood toe to toe with familiar faces this morning, all gathered for a common purpose. This is Memorial Day in Smalltown, U.S.A.
If you missed it, I pity you. The sights and sounds, the ceremony, the camaraderie, and the fellowship afterwards was energizing to say the least. However, the recognition that, because of their great sacrifice, we are able to FREELY honor the men and women that gave their lives to protect our great nation,THAT is what Memorial Day is all about.
If you are a veteran, thank you for serving.
God Bless the U.S.A.
The Atomic Dawg