Saturday, May 23, 2009
Remembering.... on Memorial Day Weekend
Growing up, Memorial Days passed with more emphasis on BBQs than the significance of day.
Considering that I grew up in the wake of the Vietnam War, I guess that's not surprising - public rhetoric focused on the tragedy of war, not on honoring those who gave their "last full measure of devotion".
It's reassuring that that seems to have changed.
In Arlington, the hints that Memorial Day is soon to arrive are at first subtle and then persistent.
First, the quiet and subtle... When I went for a long walk after work on Thursday, I noted that the small American flags were already in place in front of every headstone in Arlington National Cemetery. The flags are placed there every year, and it touches me deep inside that those who were charged with care of our National Cemetery thought to institute this individual tribute.
Next, the persistent... Since yesterday afternoon, Highway 50 has rumbled with the sound of big shiny motorcycles cruising toward DC. With my windows open, the sound is... not subtle. The percentage of those in black leather in the DC metro area will reach its annual high tomorrow during the Rolling Thunder ride to the National Mall and the White House. Since I first witnessed this tradition 5 or 6 years ago, I've thoroughly enjoyed it. There is something uniquely satisfying about the rumble of thousands of Harleys rattling the staid and somewhat self-important core of Washington, DC. I also now have more respect for the significance of the tradition. Not only does it carry their message of "never forget" on behalf of our POWs and MIAs, but it also seems to say: let's remember together and honor the sacrifice of those we've lost.
That's not too much to ask.