I don't remember as a kid going to a Memorial Day parade. But about 8 years ago we drove out to spend the day with my then agent who lives in a tiny little town about 90 minutes west of us and spent the day. Their property abuts a sod farm (yes, one grows sod on farms) and about 2 lots from them is the local cemetery and then 'city' hall and then the school/library/post office/community center/catering company and coincidentally Joann's office. We schmoozed for a little while, although schmoozing in Kanesville is unheard of, and then we went down the 'street' to the community center where the townees and surroundings had gathered. Standing in the front of the gym like room were representatives from every branch of the service in full uniform. Flags were brought in. The volunteer band (and probably volunteer fire department) played each song from each brand of service and we sang along. The crowd of about 100 cheered, cried and applauded for his or her father or mother or favorite or own favorite or own memory. The kids were quiet and awestruck by the flags and ceremony. Then we marched down the 'street' two blocks to the cemetery and there was a 21 gun salute followed by a BBQ lunch. There was little we could eat there but the bread and chips but I remember clearly that the occasion didn't call for haute cuisine but haute respect. It was memorable.
My daddy didn't serve in WW2 but worked in an artillery plant as a welder. My grandpa had a baby girl in 1917 and did not serve in WW1. Roger clerked for a Federal Judge during Nam and my brother was a chaplain protecting the country at Fort Leonard Wood. My Uncle Buddy was in the entertainment division for the USO and I remember hearing many stories of our ancestry who rode out of the Russian Army on a 'borrowed' horse to come to America. We are not a people who serve but a people who respect those who do. Watching our flag fly above our house from Friday until today it is hard not to think of the tribes of the Israelites getting ready to march across the desert on the way to the land they were promised. I often think that this land of freedom and opportunity is that land as well.
As corny and as sappy as you might think it when I walk out the door on this day of gratitude for freedom and in respect of all who take care of us - I touch the mezzuzah and salute the flag. It takes a little longer to get to where I'm going but it makes the journey richer.
Today is the 42nd day of the Counting of the Omer. We enter the week after a memorable day filled with BBQs and maybe a beer and see what the work week will bring us.