And so another Memorial Day comes around.
I feel like I’m one of those 1930’s – 1940’s black and white movies where they illustrate the passage of time by sending pages flying off the calendar.
This is now Pink Slip’s eighth Memorial Day.
Last year, I was writing about the meaning of Memorial Day – and about how Jim and I were hoping to hear good results from his first rounds of chemo. (We didn’t.) The year before, I was writing about the meaning of Memorial Day – and about Jim’s recovery from “successful” (or so it seemed at the time) surgery for his cancer. Fly a lot more days-months-years off those calendars, and we’re back to Pink Slip’s first Memorial Day post, in May 2007, when I wrote about Decoration Day.
This Memorial Day, I’m mostly thinking about the two dear ones I have lost since last Memorial Day: my husband Jim and my golden (50 years!) friend Marie.
Neither was a veteran.
Jim spent what would have been his soldiering years working as a chemist for a series of government agencies, including the CIA, in order to get draft deferments. (Hard to think of anyone less suited to the soldier’s life than my singular and peculiar husband. I always told him he would have been Section-Eighted out in the time it took his drill sergeant to yell “ten-hut”, or whatever it is that drill sergeants yell.) Like my father, Marie’s served in World War II, Bob as a Marine MP in the South Pacific (a precursor to his job as a Worcester cop).
Anyway, Jim and Marie are the ones I’m mostly memorializing this time around.
Yesterday, I paid my first visit to the area at Mt. Auburn Cemetery where most of Jim’s remains remain. It’s a beautiful cemetery, where Jim and I had often taken walks, and the spot where Jim’s ashes-to-ashes are buried is especially lovely.
But this really is the day to think about those who died fighting in our good, bad, and indifferent wars over the many years.
Since the Revolutionary War, 37,000 Massachusetts men (and women) have died in action, and over Memorial Day weekend, there’s a flag on Boston Common that flies in memory of each and every one of them. I actually don’t know any of them. The closest I came was the brother of two girls I went to high school. He died in Viet Nam. I wasn’t really friends with either of them, but the student council officers went to represent the school, so there I was, mourning David O’Brien, who was all of 19 or 20 when he lost his young life in one of the bad wars.
Seeing all those flags…Thinking about all those tens-of-thousands of mostly young men.
Easy enough to send them off with a gun in their hand if we don’t know who they are, isn’t it?
Here’s to you, all 37,000 of you.
A grateful nation could really show its thanks if it thought really long and really hard before sending any more of you off.