Once upon a time, long, long ago, we celebrated my grandmother’s birthday – always on Memorial Day, with a picnic at Long Run Park, near Long Run Cemetery where Abraham Lincoln’s paternal grandfather, revolutionary soldier, after being attacked and killed by American Indians in 1786, was buried. Home-made fried chicken, potato salad and lemon meringue pie, my grandmother’s favorite, plus all those vegetables the children liked to avoid, prepared my aunts, who carry on today the culinary tradition of setting a delectable table, whether at a picnic or dinner table – was the exclamation point to the celebration. The birthday that remains etched in my memory, though, is the Memorial Day when it snowed, causing us to scatter, cutting the celebration short.
That is one memory, one facet of Memorial Day. Another facet, one dear to my sons’ hearts, just like memories of my grandmother and grandfather to me are two very special men to my sons, who served their country, one in World War II and one in Korea.
A step-father to me, but a grandfather of the heart to one of my sons. They were two peas in a pod. He left a heritage of fearlessness, a spirit of adventure and patriotism – a World War II ace fighter pilot.
Papaw, serving in the United States Air Force during the Korean War, left a heritage of humbleness, hard work, family always, helping others, loving others, a spirit of personal excellence, and always giving 150% in whatever you do. He definitely lived “whatever your hand finds to do, do with all your might” (Ecc. 9:10) – and do it with the noblest intentions!
To all the soldiers who serve now and who have served before, thank you, from the depths of my heart, for your service to our country so that my sons can grow up America Free, like their father, grandfathers, great-grandfathers – all the way back to those who served in the American Revolution. And to all those soldiers’ wives and mothers – thank you for your courage and sacrifice, too! I don’t know how you do it!