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Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day! What does that mean to you? What does that mean to your town? Do you, or does your town, do anything to celebrate Memorial Day? If so, then count yourself lucky.

My sister, MADKAPKID, brought up a really good point in her blog today. There are no parades anymore.

When we were kids, we lived in a little, tiny village...Phoenix, NY. The name was appropriate for us. In its earlier days, Phoenix had burnt to the ground, and was rebuilt through the ashes to become the village we knew. Our school colors were orange and black...flames and ashes. Our teams were called the Firebirds. It was all so appropriate because of our history.

Karen and I were both in the high school band. I still remember the days before I got there, watching Karen march in the parade. Oh, yes...we always had a Memorial Day parade. Flags waved, people smiled and cheered, and flowers and flags were placed on the graves of veterans who died fighting so that our way of life would continue.

But, I digress.

I was watching Karen march in the parade. I was so proud of her, and I just couldn't wait until I could do that, too. It was such a special thing, to see her in our band uniform, playing her clarinet as she marched down Main Street, playing marches, by John Phillip Sousa, of course, and other patriotic songs.

(Now, that's definitely not us, but you get the idea)

So, a few short years later, it was my turn. I'll never forget the first time I got to put on that uniform. They were old, military style uniforms, as so many high school band uniforms were then. They had soutache trim, epaulets and braids on the shoulders, brass buttons, a stripe down the side of the pants, or skirt...and a military style hat. It was heavy, hot and maybe a little ugly...remember, orange and black! But I just loved that uniform. I loved putting it on and marching down Main Street in our Memorial Day parade. It was an honor and I felt really special. We would march to the high school, get in a bus and go to an even smaller village, Pennellville, and re-form at a cemetery, where we would play more patriotic songs to honor the veterans who lay in the graves there. Wow! Ya just can't make this stuff up. It really was awesome.

I'll never forget one year in particular. It was hot out that year. Our uniforms, being wool, were also very hot. The hat, being black, and wool...well, you can imagine how much fun that was in the hot sun. The guy standing in front of me at the cemetery that morning was tall and skinny...6'4". In the middle of a song, he started staggering backwards and then fell back, right at me. He'd passed out from the heat and I couldn't begin to catch him. Well, he came around and was fine, but he surely made an indelible memory for me! It was like seeing a tree falling on you!

But, I digress, again.

How did we ever get away from such things as parades to honor our veterans? Have we become so cavalier that we don't think we should honor them any more? Was it just their duty? Did it have nothing to do with us? Well I don't really think that's it. I think we have gotten so busy, and maybe a little complacent in our lives, with all of our freedoms, that we just don't always take time to think about why it is that we still have them. Isn't that just sad????

I hope that maybe this year we, at least those of us here, on Spark, can take the time to honor the ones responsible for us still having the freedoms we hold so dear. We need to do whatever we can to make sure we never let them slip away. It seems there are those that would take them away, if we let them. With more government control, it's getting difficult. There are groups that want to shut us up if we're Christian. Sadly, our governments at all levels seem to lean that way all too often. We need to persevere to remain free to worship as we please.

This may seem like an odd connection, but I think even what we're doing here at Spark is somehow connected to us honoring the veterans that fought for our freedom. I think we might owe it to them to try to be the best person we can be, to show that we appreciate the life we've been given. That means getting healthy

The healthier we are, the better we can live and encourage others to remember. Remember the reasons our soldiers fought in the first place. Remember the freedoms that we have still today, because of them. Remember the veterans that gave all they had...their very keep those freedoms. Our fathers, brothers, sons, uncles and now mothers, daughters, and sisters. They are the ones who fought for us.

Veterans, we salute you!

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Things I'm grateful for:

emoticon I'm grateful for the freedoms I enjoy daily and tend to take for granted. I hope I won't be taking them for granted so much in the future.

emoticon I'm grateful for the privilege to gather as families and friends and have a cookout. Without a holiday to remember our veterans, people would be working today!

emoticon I'm grateful for remembering celebrations of the past, that taught me the meaning of Memorial day. I hope our kids and grandchildren can remember in the future why this isn't "just another holiday".

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So, my friends, remember to always count your blessings and treasure them. Some of them came at quite a cost.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    As a vet myself, I thank you for posting such a wonderful blog!
    2486 days ago
    Thank you for sharing this. :)
    2488 days ago
  • GRITS46
    Pattie, a beautifully written blog and sadly too much of what you've written is true today. Here's hoping things will change bit by bit to at least be observant and respectful of those who've protected our rights and freedoms in the past. I'm so proud that there are communities around Portland and in Portland which do honor our veterans in many ways over this weekend, and I'm so pleased that through Bob's music we're involved in some of those remembrances. Thanks for taking the time to write out what so many of us believe and feel. You are a blessing and a treasured friend!

    Hugs and smiles,
    2488 days ago
  • SHARON10002
    Pattie, this was a emoticon blog!

    I too grew up in a small town in Western NY and we had parades not only on Memorial Day, but a few times during the year. You are right, we seem to be discouraged and prevented from those very things that kept up close as a town, and a nation,.

    I watched the Today Show this morning and it was Fleet Week in NYC. All of the sailors and Marines were there in their uniforms and it made me so proud. I am a former military wife and now am a military mom with a son deployed to Afghanistan. Those that serve so bravely and honorably don't call daily attention to themselves or what they do. They just do it because they want to.

    Our country needs to get its focus back. Too many in the minority are telling the majority that we should change things to their liking ,.. their way of doing things. I don't agree with that.

    We have forgotten what is important . . . We are being separated and homogenized, and we don't even realize it. We need to get back to caring about one another.

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    2488 days ago
  • KRYS210
    Very well stated! Most places don't have parades anymore because of the cost factor is what I read, but it sure does take away so many memories.
    2488 days ago
    2488 days ago
    I really love your blog. Our town itself doesn't do anything to celebrate. There is a big Blues music festival going on this weekend. But about 7 miles outside of town is the historic Fort Bayard site and a veteran's cemetary there. There was a ceremony and a fly over there this morning. No parade though. There is no town there anymore. The main thing now is an old hospital that was state run until early fall when they opened a new state hospital on some acreage around it. It's for the disabled and elderly who can't live on their own anymore. They are trying to figure out what to do with the old hospital building because it is historic. There are some neat old houses there also that houses officers many years ago that have the big porches with talk white pilars. There is a lot of movement to preserve the historic hospital and houses, although no one is allowed to live in them anymore.
    I too celebrate the gift that our veterans and current military give to us. My brother retired a year and a half ago from the military after 20 years. First 10 years as a marine, then got out for a while, then went back to do another 10 years in the reserves and was in Desert Storm and then again in Afghanistan after 9/11. His daughter, my niece, graduates from high school the middle of June and is leaving for Marine boot camp in July. My other niece, her sister, wanted to go in when she graduated from high school and had planned it for several years but then during her senior year she developed Crohn's Disease and almost died from it. Crohn's excluded her from being eligible for the military. I take every opportunity I can to thank the military. When I see someone in uniform in a store or restaraunt or someplace I make it a point to go say thank you to them. And I appreciate all those from other wars who died for us. I really appreciate your blog.
    2488 days ago
    I am so happy that you wrote this blog, Pattie. I am so lucky to live in a city where Memorial Day is very important and celebrated almost as much as the 4th of July. I am proud that my husband is a veteran of the Viet Namn War and all of the young men and women who sacrafice their lives for all of us Americans!!! emoticon emoticon
    2488 days ago
  • CAZ5346

    2488 days ago
  • QTEALADY20031
    Pattie, what a beautiful blog you have written, it is really a dedication to our wonderful service men and women. Coming from the city of Philadelphia I do remember parades honoring our veterans and those serving.....flags were everywhere and I always remember us having a flag hang from my front porch.
    You have brought back some pleasant memories for me. I am sure that you and Karen very much appreciate all the memories that you have from long ago. (not that long).
    Enjoy and Celebrate this day. emoticon emoticon June
    2488 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/30/2011 1:45:47 PM
  • JILL313
    Wow, Pattie, you said it all so eloquently--and they are my sentiments exactly. My heroes are the Military and Veterans who have sacrificed so much for the freedom most of us take for granted. Like someone said God saved our soul but the Soldiers saved our Freedom--and many soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice for us all. You brought back some old memories of when I played the flute in my high school band and I remember all the wonderful parades and those heavy and awful uncomfortable uniforms so well. . .Around here unfortunately I don't know of any Memorial Day Parades...A beautiful and small City that I almost live on the border of, Sierra Madre, has a big 4th of July Parade and it is fun and a good old fashioned one. You are right we all need to take good care of our bodies that our military fought to save. Thank you for writing this great and timely blog.

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    2488 days ago
    I love your blog! Today IS a special day! One that SHOULD be celebrated and those men and women who served and serve our country to keep us free and safe should be honored. Your gratitude list says it all!

    AND, yes, my dear sister, we do have some very happy memories of past celebrations. And, I agree, I hope that people for generations make and have menories to share too. Have a joy filled day, Karen emoticon emoticon
    2488 days ago
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