Today we observe #Memorial#Day. For some, today is recognized as a #Federal holiday; a day off from work with pay. Others associate today as a time to prepare their pools for the summer, time to plan their summer vacation to the beach, time to get their boats and fishing gear ready and time to fire up the grills.
For many others, today will be a day for them to grieve, to hang on to the good memories they still have and mourn the loss of their loved ones who served in the US Military.
Umbrella in hand and my camera, I visited a local cemetery near my home where my ancestors are buried. I walked amongst the tombstones in the misting rain with mixed emotions of sadness, gratitude, and admiration.
As I walked along the graveyard searching for the tombstones with small flags saturated from the rain I wondered what the soldiers' lives were like growing up. Were they from a large farming family or were any of them orphaned? Did they get to finish high school? Did they leave a sweetheart behind? So many unanswered questions and a part of history we will not ever know.
Visiting the graves of the soldiers, I just didn't take a photo and rush on. I patiently took my time and lingered for a few moments. Some more than others because I had to clean off the nameplates on the ground. (Trees and mother nature hasn't been kind to some). I took time to read their name, read their birthdates, death dates and then I 'Thanked them' (by name) for their service, for their belief in our nation, for their courage, for their strength to leave their families behind to serve their country, for their integrity, for their never-ending bravery, and for their sacrifice to keep us free.
I wondered what it was like for these young men to go away from home to a new a strange environment. Did their parents approve? Or how many didn't have a father, just a mother, and siblings? It had to have been very difficult and I'm sure the color of their skin and their deep, old-Oxford-Dutch dialogue caused them to be center of attention when they first arrived for basic training. (If you're wondering - the soldiers are all Native American from the Lumbee (North Carolina Tribe.)
Today, I took time from my way overdue chores, from my manuscript to visit and pay my respects to my ancestors at the family cemetery on Memorial Day. This is something I used to do with my grandparents when I was a child. They didn't wait until Memorial Day or any other special holiday, they went when the notion struck. As I remember, it was at least once a month.
This last photo is of my maternal uncle's grave. I visited his grave last. I stood on the small brick retaining wall surrounding the family plot and thanked my Uncle for his service to our country.
As I drove home, I wondered how many others would visit the graves of our soldiers today?