Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

South of The Bridge of Lions in St Augustine is a pristine National Guard Barracks next to a 175-year-old military cemetery. We spent the morning visiting & taking pictures, expecting to have the place all to ourselves. Thankfully, we were joined by several 'visitors' soon after our arrival.

Monday is Memorial Day & there will be the usual poorly-attended services of remembrance held across the nation. Unfortunately, many Americans will regard the day as nothing more than a day off from work. The traditional family get togethers will take place, but lots of folks will never pause to give a 2nd thought to those who served & sacrificed or those currently serving & sacrificing.

The signs describe these pyramids. More than 1400 soldiers are buried beneath them.

This fellow was an amazing patriot. WW1 was absolutely brutal - He returned for WW2!!

Here's a marker (below) for a soldier from The Spanish American War - a war against Spain, approved by Congress at 3AM on April 19th 1898, & formally declared 6 days later in response to the sinking of the US Warship 'Maine'. To avoid war, President McKinley actually tried to buy the island of Cuba from Spain. Can you imagine the quality of life that the Cuban people could have enjoyed had this offer been accepted 111 years ago?

Maybe this soldier charged up San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt (Roosevelt was almost 40 years old at the time - with 6 kids at home! 3 years later, TR became the 26th president of the USA.)

Here's a picture that helps to reinforce my hope for America's future. These kids are members of The Explorers Club - part of the P.A.L. program run by the St John's County Sheriff's Department. They placed flags on every grave. I listened as the Deputy in charge explained the need for quiet decorum, reminding them that "this cemetery is a place of honor". He instructed the kids on how the small flags were to be placed, emphasizing that they could not be allowed to touch the ground. I would guess that the group ranged in age from 10 to 16 & they went about the work quietly, respectfully & efficiently. They were being taught to give something back & they carried out the task as if it was a privilege, not a chore & not a joke. It was one of those choke-back moments for me.

Is Monday going to be just an extra day off? A day for a backyard cookout? Is there enough time in this weekend's busy schedule to honor those that put it all on the line - both past & present? Freedom has always come at a great cost. Acknowledge the sacrifice - take time to say THANKS.


Careann said...

Canada's day is November 11th... Remembrance Day... the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For years as children in school we trailed off to our auditoriums for a special ceremony, then returned to classes. Only in later years did it become a "holiday".

It's always commemorated on the actual day, so has never been an excuse for a long weekend, but I'm not sure people really feel the significance of the day unless they've had family members fighting or dying in the wars (then and now). It's nice to see those youngsters acknowledging the sacrifices with such respect.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

A wonderful tribute, Dave. You do a great service to all soldiers with your post. Makes me feel honoured to know you.

Sean B. & Mary B. said...

Another great post, Dave. Sean and I both come from a long line of military service veterans with the most recent being Matt, who completed two tours in Iraq with the Marines...and going all the way back to my great, great grandfather in the Civil War and possibly earlier than that. My brother and I were taught at an early age the meaning and importance of Memorial Day and always visited the cemeteries on that day.

Now that people seem to be getting back to basics again, we can only hope that parents will continue to teach their children how important it is to take time to remember those that served, and those that made the supreme sacrifice to give us the freedoms that so many take for granted.

Ronnie said...

Well said, Dave. Enjoyed your post, especially the Explorer scouts.

JaxPop said...

Thanks all. After 6 or 7 straight days of rain - it cleared up just in time for the Veterans - which was very cool.

I was going to include pics of my dad in uniform but I wanted to maintain the serious tone. He looked to be about 12 years old in those days so I said ... Nah!!!

kap said...

Very nice, Dave. The sacrifice of veterans amazes me whenever I think about it (which is not often enough).

I was lucky enough to attend my father's last WWII reunions with him and meet a few of his Army buddies. There are just so many people we owe gratitude to.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

This is a beautiful post, Dave.
I looked for hours for a pic of my granddad to post, but couldn't find one. Maybe I'll find it by next year!

I'm sorry I'm coming over late. Now that baseball is over, I hope to have more time to visit my blog friends. (But I'm sure you know better than I do the craziness of baseball season!)