Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

As a tribute to this blog's American readers and to Canada's US friends, this piece from the New York Times is worth repeating in full. MP+

May 25, 2009
This Memorial Day
Memorial Day often seems like a holiday that anticipates summer. But this year in the Northeast at least, it feels like exactly what it is — a spring holiday. If this had been a scorcher of a spring, rather than unseasonably rainy and cool, perhaps this Memorial Day wouldn’t feel quite so premature. As it is, the lilacs upriver from New York are just beginning to fade — after a tumultuous lilac year, blossoms dense as thunderheads — and the poppies are just threatening to open.

There is also a springlike, life-affirming mood to this day. There are grand, public memorials — as there should be. But in some ways the most meaningful are the intimate ones, the private ones, where we both mourn and celebrate the men and women who have died in this country’s service.

What transforms this nation’s cemeteries today isn’t merely fresh flowers or small American flags or carefully tended gravestones. It’s the presence of quiet people — gathered in small groups or standing alone — paying homage to a grave that marks a life that was sacrificed. Some of these people are still racked by their loss, which is as recent as yesterday. In others the loss has become a very old wound, the pain still lingering in memory even though the scar has faded.

We drive or walk past the cemetery and its poplars, feeling the tug of the season ahead, the resistance of the season behind. At first we may not feel a visceral connection to those somber gravesides or the people standing there. But their loss is ours, and always will be. That is the meaning of Memorial Day.

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Mad Padre

Mad Padre
Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's notional musings, attempted witticisms, and prayerful posturings.


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