Old soldiers march in step to the high school bands of local youths. Places once filled by WWII buddies keep time with their aged cadence. Korean and Vietnam veterans still have a decent cohort showing, though they are also victims of times’ attrition. The young ones, the boys and girls of our current wars, some of them march, but not like in the old days when war was more popular, or at least soldiering was more common.
Flags and flowers bloom in the local cemetery. Abrupt bursts of patriotic color placed by local Scouts, veterans or even family. 21 gun salutes and bugle calls bring tears to the eyes of many, though everyone tries not to meet the haunted eyes of the young widows and widowers in the “new section”. It’s too hard now. Everyone has an opinion on the wars, the military, and their deeds. We don’t know if they went because they were committed to the cause, just trying to get a job or even a college education. We don’t know and, though we care, we duck our heads as we pass, fearful of catching their eyes. Afraid of having to stop and speak to them about something we peripheral mourners know nothing about.
The coals in the BBQ are almost gone completely to ash. Not even enough heat for one more marshmallow. Remnants of the feast, parade goodies and tiny flags lie strewn in the yard. Citronella smoke vies with the dusk, making cleaning up a futile effort. Children are slathered with lotion for the “sunkisses” of the day, and tucked up into bed. The friends and neighbors are home now and quiet. Even the dog has crept out from under the table in the yard where he was hiding from the fireworks. The beginning of summer is off to it’s unofficial start…except for one thing, the one thing a soldier and their family never forgets…the dead, dying and wounded we’ve left behind.
It’s not that we don’t want to remember. It’s all over the TV and such that today was Memorial Day. There was a parade after all.