Friday, May 23, 2008

Memorial Day

Memorial Day was always just a day off of work or school for me. My family did not celebrate the day with any type of picnic or party. It was just a holiday that I took for granted. I have always been interested in U.S. History and I have always enjoyed studying books about war and battles (“more pursue than a study”) but I never knew anyone that had died in a war and the significance of Memorial Day was lost on me.

Somewhere in my late teens or early twenties that changed.

I was reading the book “The Only War We Had” by Michael Lanning. The book is one man’s journal of being on the front lines in Vietnam. In one of the entries, he explains the death of one of his comrades LT. William F. Little III. I don’t know why, maybe it was the fact that he was named William, but something about LT. Little grabbed me. I knew nothing about him except for what was written in that book. Not long after reading that book I went to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. and I looked up his name and I made an etching. I have been to D.C. maybe 6 times since then, and every time I look up his name on the Wall.

Every Memorial Day, from the time I “found” William Little, I always say a little prayer for his family. I found some significance for the day off of work.

In November of 2005 Capt. Jeff Toczylowski died on a combat mission in Iraq. Jeff was a very close friend of my bother Jim. My mom used to baby-sit Jeff every day after school for many years. I knew Jeff. He was quite the character. Jeff’s death and story made national headlines.

Memorial Day now has more significance to me.

No matter your political affiliation or your stance on war I think it is important to remember those people like William F Little III and Jeff Toczylowski and not take Memorial Day, the holiday, for granted.

Lauren and I have discussed starting a tradition for the kids to make Memorial Day a true day of remembrance of fallen soldiers. I believe they are still too young to teach them about war and loss. But I do not think it is ever too early to teach them to appreciate the freedoms and blessings that we have living in the U.S.

Do you have a Memorial Day tradition? What do you do?


Anonymous said...

well...growing up, I lived right across the street from the i was very aware of the preparations (mowing, spiffying up the graves, the flags added to the Veteran's graves), then of course the parade every year, which went right by our house (however at our house it was a solemn drum beat to respect the dead) and then the speeches and honor guards in the cemetary...and later i was in the band so i marched in the parade...and it was all topped off with a picnic.

now, i just remember, and put out a flag...

God bless them all!


Bogart said...

I always called my grandfather's and thanked them...since both are gone now, I will simply grab Claire by the hand, look her in the eyes and make sure she understands how in awe and appreciative I am of her tour in Iraq. It might be cheesy, but she will NEVER have any doubt about how I feel regarding her sacrifice.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago JP and I went to Valley Forge on Memorial weekend, where I took this photo. Part of the inscription says:


In our day-to-day lives, we forget just how sweet that liberty is, and what it took/what it takes for us to have it. Thanks for helping me remember.

Undercover Mutha said...

I don't have any traditions because my relatives are buried over a 1,000 miles away. This is my first Memorial Day living across the street from the cemetery. Like Melissa, I'm very aware of the doings going on over there. I've never seen it look so good.

God bless our troops.

Anonymous said...

First thing we did when we moved to our house 10 years ago was put in a flag pole...we fly it proud in honor of all those dedicated men and women...we will remember "Toz" personally now...god bless his family & friends!

Vicky said...

I make it it a point to thank any military personel I come in contact with, not just memorial day...but everyday. My father was in the vietnam war and lost his best friend and cousin. He served over 20 years in the Air Force.

Anonymous said...

Today I took the memory book of "Toz" that Shannon made for me and looked through it and remembered him and cried. I also laughed. He was a special person and always made me laugh. Instead of putting the book back on the shelf, I placed it on the coffee table, so that anyone who visits this weekend can pick it up and remember and maybe say a little prayer. God bless our military and God bless America. God bless those who died serving our country. We truly are the Home of the Brave! momo9

Anonymous said...

William, where were you when your brothers and I traced the name of Joseph Lannon on the wall? Our Hometown Viet Nam hero. I know you were on the trip. We took about 5 copies home with us. Keep he and his family in your thoughts this weekend too. How could you forget?

Fetcher said...

I grew up in Fairfax, Virginia, which is a short train ride to Arlington Cemetary. Every Memorial Day we would go to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Honor Guard marching in their exact way back and forth. We would see JFK and the eternal flame, and the Custis House on the hill overlooking Crystal City. Once our family grew, we stopped going as a family, but I still went every year that I wasn't working.

This past year, one of my heroes died suddenly and was buried in Arlington Cemetary. Colonel David H. Hackworth, Rest in Peace - I only knew him from his books and what I read about him on the internet, but I admire the type of person he was.

Jody said...

When we were little we would visit my grandfather's grave. He was a WWII vet.

Now, we don't do much. We need to pay our respects and attend a parade or something. With Doug being a vet you would think we would do more...

Anonymous said...

my daughter's elementary school really educates them on these holidays and I am grateful and proud when she comes home from school to discuss it with me. When I was a kid in the 70s and 80s, I dont ever remember learning or understanding the importance of it and now with everything going on, it is more important than ever.

C. said...

My Mom would take us every Memorial Day and Veterans Day to see my great-grandfather who fought in WWI and WWII. The man was amazing. He lived to 101, just passing in April of 2007.

In WWI he lost a good part of his gut from being shot. His most serious health problem since was a little pain. Never complained and was self sufficent until the day he did. We miss Pop Pop.

Anonymous said...

Here in the UK we don't have Memorial Day, but we do have Remembrance Day on Nov 11 or the Sunday closest to that date.

We wear poppies to signify the poppies that grew in Flanders, and the blood of those who lost their lives.

The saddest thing is that the young people don't seem to care much. They think that it only applies to the old folk from WW1 & 2. 'We' don't remember as much as we should, nor those who are putting themselves at risk even now.

I admire the patriotism you show in the US towards your servicemen and women.

I vividly remember being at Sea World in Florida, at the Shamu stadium, there was a call for all ex and serving forces men and women regardless of nationality to stand up. I hesitated, because it was a good few years since I last wore a uniform, but my son told me to. It was one of the most emotional moments of my life. I felt so very appreciated. Thank you for that.

Here in the UK, you rarely feel that people value what you do while serving your Queen and country. It's sad.

Ann(ie) said...

I love the name of your blog!! My dad would say the same thing when we asked what we were eating, but his standard was 'shit on a it.' hehe. My mother would groan. We're somewhat normal, too. ;)

Happy Long weekend!

The Maid said...

I am so grateful as I get older and understand the significance. I had a grandpa who served in WWII...he is still alive today.

My father was a career Army helicopter pilot. He never had to serve in combat, but the threat of it was always real.

If you have a minute to visit my blog, I also wrote a tribute to him.

Thanks for sharing your story.

The Maid

K said...

While we are awaiting the construction of our home, we are in an apartment. We aren't technically allowed to alter the appearance of the outside of our deck rail, but today we hung our flag and will keep it up until Tuesday.

Murphy and I both served in the Army and have family members who served in the military. We recognize the sacrifices made by military men and women, and even though it may not seem like much, proudly hanging that flag is always meaningful to us...and hopefully to others that may see it.

Insane Mama said...

I love your poop and boogies from your dad, that is funny! I think it is sad that so many people use Memorial day as a party and forget what the true meaning is. We always bbq though : ) so who am I to talk

jaacs said...

My husband and I have been reading your blog for a while and love it. We would so hang out with you. I'm not kidding...exact same sense of humor. Scary.

Anyway, this post stuck out to me because we go to church with a William F. Little III and his son, IV, and dad, II. Little is a very common name, of course and I'm not really sure why I even mention that.

We went to a parade on Saturday. Barely anyone was there and we have an AFB here. Sad. Not one of the high school bands even marched in it. I'm writing a letter of anger to the paper over that one. I was a drum major and in marching band for four my opinion...those kids should have been there. I found it insulting and I'm not even a Vet. Argh!

Denise B. said...

We don't have any Memorial Day traditions, but my dad is a Vietnam Vet, and there even though he lived through it, there was still loss. He rarely speaks of it, and I know it scarred him deeply. I think of my dad the most on Memorial Day, and the many ways we experience loss.