Memorial Day: Another day to honor all those who served, sacrificed their obituaries
My sister and brother were very happy to participate in our Memorial Day “Best Patriotic” Costume Contest.
It was an annual event and many kids from our small town of Montague, Michigan attended. Meanwhile, in the 1940s, most parents couldn’t afford costumes, so it was up to a mother’s creativity to find something special. Mom, who made most of our clothes, was thrilled when my brother won the top prize!
It was 1945. The date was September 2. Even though I was only seven years old, I remember how excited we were when we learned that the war with Germany was over. I heard the sound of the city’s emergency whistle, the honking of car horns, church bells ringing, people shouting and running down our street waving American flags. My dad gave flags to my sister, brother and me and we joined in all the excitement. We knew how important this day was for our country. Many young people from our small town of Montague served overseas during the war and now many would be returning home. It was an unforgettable day.
The war was over, and it wasn’t long before small towns and villages began to thrive thanks to the industrial ideas of people grateful for the opportunity to live in the United States. Our streets were relatively safe, children enjoyed outdoor activities, schools taught human rights and decency, parents expected discipline for their children, prayers were said, the flag American floated with pride. The pledge of allegiance was recited and learned at a very young age. The children learned to put their hands over their hearts as the flag passed. The songs “God Bless America”, “My Country ’tis of Thee” and the national anthem were sung with pride.
Memorial Day was special during this time. Almost everyone dressed and attended the parade and ceremonies. My father was a World War I veteran and because of his age he was proud to march in front of the parade. I was so proud of him and he was proud to have been a person who served our country. He marched in the parade for many years. I don’t think he missed a Memorial Day parade and as he got older he proudly rode in a car at the front of the parade. His request was to be buried in his uniform and, at age 97, his request was granted.
Before the end of the war, I remember my parents participating in helping when needed. My father was an active member of the VFW. Later in life he was honored with a lifetime membership. He was a “blackout” community volunteer. A “blackout” meant that every light in every house was turned off. He put on a hard hat and walked his designated blocks, making sure every household followed the rules. The “blackout” was a precautionary measure for the safety of our small town. I was always happy when dad walked through our front door and told us we could turn the lights back on!
My mother was active in packing medical packages for our soldiers. She let me help her and I carefully and carefully put the items together. She was very special and didn’t want to “just throw” anything. She often wrote little notes of encouragement, and I remember many times that tears came to her eyes when she put them in the wrappers.
I think that when I was five I participated too! Our kindergarten teacher made us collect milkweed pods, which I believe were sent to make something for our soldiers. I always wondered what they could do with milkweed pods! However, we did and we felt even at such a young age that we were contributing to the war effort.
We will be celebrating Memorial Day again soon. The years go by so quickly and so much has been forgotten or never been known. Our world today is quite different from that of my childhood. However, Memorial Day is always a day to honor all who have served and sacrificed for our country. We must never forget those who have selflessly devoted themselves to the cause of freedom. Today there are many young men still serving, so we Americans can say, “We live in the land of the free and home of the brave.”
Posted on May 29, 2021