Today we attended our first Memorial Day parade and service. We’re still not that familiar with the new neighborhood so I was cruising around trying to find a place to park that seemed like it would be fairly close to the parade route. After a few turns, I had no real idea where we were, only that we had to be somewhere in the general vicinity of the parade. The giveaway on that point were the police cars flashing away by the corner.
We parked and surveyed the area, then made our way to a spot where people were standing on the sidewalk. It turns out we chose the perfect spot. It was right outside the cemetery.
As we waited for the parade to reach us, we watched the children there with their parents and grandparents. Most of them held little flags. One boy asked his grandfather, “Is this where all the dead people are?”
Suddenly everyone’s attention was focused on the cars and people coming down the street: police, firefighters, soldiers, Boy Scouts, and the high school marching band. They made their way to the cemetery where they had a wreath laying ceremony. There was a short prayer service, followed by the firing of guns, and the playing of taps. I was surprised by the flood of emotion I felt.
It was good to take a moment and remember what this day is really about – not barbecues and the start of summer but a time to remember the lives that were sacrificed for us to enjoy the freedoms we have. I can’t believe it took me this long to truly get that.