You know me: I’m a big believer in Memorial Day. It used to be just a day off for a cookout. Now I find myself more and more thinking about what the holiday is really for: remembering the brave people who have given their lives in the service of their country. In my little town, the Memorial Day Parade kicks off the ceremonies with…
…and of course, my personal favorite, the marching band.
As a former band mom, I still tear up when they march past.
Then we all follow the parade down to the center of town where the war memorials stand. For 364 days a year, they are just part of the scenery: benches to sit on, walls for children to balance on, easily identifiable landmarks. Today though, the monuments are the focal point of our town.
Every year, our master of ceremonies reads every single name carved in the memorial stones. I’ve come to recognize them because until ten years ago, they were blessedly always the same. After 9/11, we had to add five more, not an addition anyone wanted to make.
Every year, the whole crowd stands utterly silent as the roll call takes place yet again. Two young scouts solemnly position a wreath for each war.
I don’t know any of the families whose children these were, but I have friends whose children are in the military right now. I have a son who is of an age to be drafted. Repeating these names year after year is important because we should never forget that our lives are the way they are because these young people were and are willing to sacrifice everything to make it so.
We should know their names, every one of them.