Column: Gratitude first, picnics laterLast week, I saw a question posted on the Facebook page of one of the Twin Cities television stations. The question asked fans what they were going to do with the long Memorial Day weekend. I was saddened as I read through the first responses.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
Last week, I saw a question posted on the Facebook page of one of the Twin Cities television stations. The question asked fans what they were going to do with the long Memorial Day weekend.
I was saddened as I read through the first responses. The responses ranged from barbecues to bass fishing, but I didn’t see any about going to a cemetery to participate in a Memorial Day service.
I don’t know when or how I came about this deep sense of gratitude I have for those who have fought for my freedom and my country. I just know it’s there. It’s in me.
To me, Memorial Day is one of the most humbling days of the year. When I go to Corinthian Cemetery, and I look around and see all of the flags waving over the graves – more and more graves every year – the totality of the sacrifices made hits me like a ton of bricks.
Memorial Day isn’t about picnics. It’s not even about saying “Thank you, Vets!” It’s about praying for the souls of those who have served in the US military and who have given their lives so that we could be free.
I heard a gal on the radio Monday. She had been part of the Minnesota delegation that went to Chicago to protest NATO. I really couldn’t wrap my head around her views. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t support the United States and its involvement in NATO, much less its involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. I look to the wars of my generation and I know soldiers aren’t necessarily protecting my freedom. They’re fighting to give others freedom. And some of her thoughts, to me, seemed crazy and unpatriotic.
But you know what? She’s got every right to have those thoughts, and to express them. She’s got every right to protest, and to speak out against the government. Those are freedoms we get, thanks to the men and women who sacrifice of themselves.
I was at a district convention for the American Legion Auxiliary over the weekend. For the better part of three days, I was surrounded by men and women who have served in the US military. We held two memorials over the weekend – one for the American Legion Auxiliary members who had died over the past year, one to recognize all of the American Legion family in our district who had died over the past year.
To see the color guard march by, to hear the National Anthem, and to watch as wreathes are laid on a memorial brings a tear to my eye every last time. I am filled with pride to be an American, to have what I have, but, I am also filled with a sense of deep gratitude. I wish I could explain it, but really, words fail me.
The Beau and I have been invited to a picnic at his sister’s house on Monday. We’ll hit that later on in the afternoon. My priority is first to go to Corinthian Cemetery and pay my respects to Farmington’s fallen heroes. That’s what my Memorial Day is.