Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Remembrance

When our family gathers, regardless of the circumstance, if given enough time to relax and just converse wanderingly, with the inevitable pauses and silences as one topic wanes before the next one rises, we will find our way back.

Back into our memories of older days when we were younger, or not even born at all. Stories of childhood, my children's, mine, my parents', even sometimes my grandparents', will surface from the mist of remembering.

In those little moments, someone we once were, or someone we've always loved who is no longer here, rises from the dead.  We dust them off, and hold them up, and smile, and remember. It somehow brings them, and us with them, to life again in that instant.

It also happens in photographs. Going through old vacation photos, or flipping through scrapbooks, the mists rise up:that feeling of remembering and forgetting that stops at the midway point in your chest, as though your lungs are filling up with something both hopeful and sad at the same time.

So it is with Memorial Day.

Remembering brings our dead back to us, briefly, often too glibly, in the midst of our thrill of a three-day weekend.

I'm always reminded of The Lives of the Dead on days like these, at least in the morning, when it's quiet and I have time to reflect. Remembering matters.

From the dusty bookshelves of memory, I pull out the memories of soldiers who gave all they had in sacrifice to my country. I don't know many of their names. There are others on this day who will list dozens they loved and knew personally. I cringe at the tone-deaf sentiments that express "blessedness" for not having a grave to visit today. But I'm at a loss to strike the right chord.

Luckily, Union General Daniel Adams Butterfield, in the wake of the Seven Days battles in 1862, finding the chords of the typical end of day call all wrong, hummed these twenty four notes from a Dutch call to his aide on the back of an envelope, and summoned his bugler to play them.

So I made this, in my quiet time this morning, because words are so painfully inadequate.

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Links to images via Google Image Search used above:
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