Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Belated Memorial Day

We went on vacation. It was a last minute deal and we ducked out of a myriad of responsibilities to do it including my sister's graduation and Brighton's margarita housewarming, and another friend's Ultimate Fighting Championship party.

I feel badly about everything except my sister's graduation. I never graduated high school, so I really don't give a fuck. My only excuse is that Jethro's ulcers desperately needed a break , and there were relatives who were able to care for his grandmother, so I could snatch some time.

It was a wonderful trip. The beach was so relaxing and the drive down in a Honda Pilot was actually a pleasure instead of the buttock-clenching nightmare that our previous trips in the Accord have been.

And yet I was melancholy yesterday on the ride back. I couldn't put my finger on it until we started passing cemeteries and the tributes to the fallen soldiers.

Sometimes in a big city, you get caught up in the frenzy of day to day life. There are so many people, so many obligations; there's politics, and church and family. When I was growing up in the Catskills, we lived in a small town. They had a parade every Memorial Day, and it was an Event. Months of preparation went into it and everyone who could find a group joined up and marched in the parade. I marched with the Brownies and Girl Scouts and one awesome year I got to carry the flag.

I remember passing the town barber who was a family friend and a former Marine. He was a very kind man, but he had always intimidated me a little. He was standing on the side of the road watching the parade go by. But as I passed him, he stood up ramrod straight and saluted. I was shocked.

It took a few years, but the seed of that moment finally took root. We are all equal and that flag made it so. The big, tough marine hadn't lowered himself to salute the flag of a little girl. He was saluting the flag of our equality - a concept so important that thousands upon thousands of soldiers lay dead in defense of it. They are not unequal in death. They are the foundation upon which our equality is formed; their deaths entwined with our lives, paving our way and guiding our paths.

These brave souls would scorn the maudlin weeping of cowards and shun the smiling hypocrisies of politicians. Instead let their heroic deeds, big or small, and their heroic deaths inspire us in the lives we live in freedom because of them.

LT SMASH has the best tribute I've yet to see on the internet. If you have the time, take a look at the soldiers who have given their lives. It will make you cry, but it will make you proud.

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