Saturday, May 24, 2014

Honoring Our Heroes: Part 2

(Patriots Point)
What do you think of when you think of Memorial Day?  Picnics, maybe a trip to the beach, extra time for cleaning your home, a much needed break from work?  For me, Memorial Day means more than a three day weekend.  It is a day for honoring the heroes who courageously fought to keep our lands free.  I think of all of my relatives who are included in that list.  My dad is one of the heroic.  He joined the Coast Guard after high school and served with honor and dignity until his retirement.  His military career afforded our family the opportunity to live in places like Puerto Rico, Maine, Hawaii, California, and finally the place we call home, Mississippi.  All beautiful places, with new adventures.  However, what stands out most in my memory are the  long months in Hawaii without my dad as he served in Vietnam.  I remember  proudly watching as my dad and the other men, all in dress uniform,  lined the deck of the ship as it departed the dock in Oahu.  Before the ship slipped from view, a long, sorrowful horn was heard.  It is as that exact moment that the dock, filled with family members, erupted in weeping.  I dreaded that moment.  I knew it was coming, but you cannot totally prepare for it.  Especially for a little girl watching her dad sail away.  I am happy to say that my dad came back to us from Vietnam, but so many others are not as lucky.
(My dad's ship prior to leaving for Vietnam)
Our lands are dotted with the resting places of many fallen soldiers.  The song "Blades of Grass and Pure White Stones"  beautifully describes these hallowed grounds.  We have had the privilege of visiting many of these resting places during our travels.  Arlington National Cemetery's purpose is to "honor those who have served our nation by providing a sense of beauty and peace for our guests. The rolling green hills are dotted with trees that are hundreds of years in age and complement the gardens found throughout the 624 acres of the cemetery".  I can attest to the beauty of Arlington National Cemetery.  Our youngest son had the extreme honor of laying a wreath at Arlington.  He was in 8th grade and it is a memory that we will never forget. 
(Courtesy of HBO) 
While visiting our oldest son in Virgina, we stumbled upon their Memorial Day ritual of placing flags and luminaries on over 15,000 graves at the Fredericksburg National Cemetery.  Many of those buried there are from the Civil War.  It was a beautiful and touching sight. 
This morning, hundreds of volunteers meet at the Biloxi National Cemetery to decorate the cemetery with a beautiful display of flags.  We have been participating in this meaningful event for many years.  My husband's father and sister are buried at this cemetery as well as my aunt and uncle.  It is a special privilege to place a flag at their grave.  It is also a loving tribute to our soldiers and loved ones.  If you have a similar activity near you, I urge you to join this year in honoring the heroes in your community.
 Blades of grass and pure white stones
Shelter those who've come and gone.
Just below the emerald sod
Are boys who reached the arms of God.

(Lyrics from Blades of Grass and Pure White Stone)

Blessings from Still Woods Farmhouse