Monday was Memorial Day. It was a somber time for me, as I thought back to all of the men and women who gave their lives to both protect and preserve this great land of ours.
From the very beginning of our history as a nation, men and women have given of their fortunes and lives to keep us safe from tyranny at home and abroad. We owe a debt to them that can never be repaid and it’s on Memorial Day that we honor those who sacrificed so unselfishly.
My great-grandfather was an officer in the First World War and his accounts of those days are both chilling and unbelievably sad. The pictures we have of him in trenches filled with bones and skulls of soldiers killed in past actions make me understand maybe just a little of what he lived through; it wasn’t pretty.
For the soldiers who survived those horrific conditions and actions, they had to find enough peace inside to live out their lives which they did and do so honorably. No one can understand the terrors they have suffered nor the choices they were forced to make without having lived through it themselves.
My grandparents’ generation were raised to respect those who had fallen and also their own dearly departed loved ones. That generation gathered in family units and took flowers out to the gravesites and the cemeteries would bloom with flowers of every imaginable color. And because of that token of remembrance it was called Decoration Day as they decorated the graves of those fallen in battle and also loved ones who had passed.
My grandparents were great gardeners as were many people of that era having had to grow their own food to eat or they would have starved for sure. There were no support systems or welfare to fall back on and so they took care of themselves and others.
Part of my grandmother’s huge garden was devoted to peonies; a plant of beautiful blossoms and they were always ready to pick just about this time of the year. She would gather hundreds of them and have them in water basins for people to come by and get for decorating graves. She charged 0.25 cents a bunch and always said “poor people need flowers to adorn graves, too. “ They were good and caring people.
Today the rush to Memorial Day is about BBQ’s, boating, camping and escaping the drudgery of work more than anything else and we seem to have forgotten those who made all that possible.
This year the solemnity of the day stopped me for a moment. Instead of the light banter usually found in this column I dedicate it to my grandfather and all of those who served so selflessly to protect us and provide for us a way to remain free. To those who were wounded and most of all to those that paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives, I bow and pray that God kept their souls in times of great turmoil, fear and pain.
May God bless you wherever you may be this week and may we always remember those that went before us paving the way for this great nation to succeed.
If you missed the chance to take a flag to a soldier’s grave or flowers to a loved one’s resting area, it is never too late to honor those who have gone before.
We owe all of them gratitude for building this life we have. God bless each and everyone one of them and God bless these United States of America.
Kevin Kirkpatrick and his Yorkie, Cooper, fish, hunt, ATV or hike daily. His email is [email protected] Additional news can be found at www.troutrepublic.com or on Twitter at TroutRepublic