Memorial Day 2011…Growing up in a small New Hampshire town, my family would dress up and head into town to watch the Memorial Day parade along with everyone else in town. It was great fun to see the parade as well as all our friends and neighbors. We enjoyed the marching bands, the police and firemen in their polished uniforms and of course, the funny men in the tiny cars raising money for the Shriners Children’s Hospital.
I remember asking my mom, “Why do they throw the wreath in the river?” It’s our town’s way of honoring the veterans, she told me. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood the true meaning behind all the festivities and I have to say, it made me a little embarrassed that I thought it was just a fun day.
Many years later when I moved to San Diego and visited Rosecrans Cemetery for the first time, I kind of felt the same way. I was stunned and saddened by the thousands of grave stones….as far as I could see in either direction, perfectly lined up with small American flags next to each one. I realized the true price of freedom as I stood there and wept. I wish I could say I make it back to Rosecrans Cemetery every year, but I don’t. But I did today and again the somberness of it took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. I will never again forget the meaning of this day and I thank each and every person who has served or is serving in the military. I am lucky to know many of these brave men and women. They truly sacrifice for us all, some with everything they have. God bless them for without them, where would we be?