Today is Memorial Day. The day we set aside to honor those who have fought and continue to fight for our freedom. My fathers fought in WWII. My son in law served in the Navy for 6 years and is now in the reserves. There are other family members sprinkled on both sides of my family that have served our country and I am grateful to them for their sacrifice.
There is no official ceremony or service of any kind taking place in my town today. There are many families flying their flags on their homes. One street down there are miniature flags lining the curb on both sides of the street for a solid block. People doing their part to commemorate the day.
All my years growing up in Hastings we had the same tradition. The war veterans and their family and friends, gathered at Roadside Park in the middle of town for a commemoration speech in front of the war memorial. Wreaths were placed there and then the high school marching band lined up and marched down Pine Street along with our men and women in uniform and the Mayor. There were always a few vintage cars to carry the oldest of the participants and they waved proudly as the people gathered along the streets to watch them pass by.
When the parade reached the end of Pine Street it headed west on 2nd Street. It was at this point that we could hear the drums in the band moving things along. All the neighbor kids and our parents emerged from our homes like little ants and converged mid way up our block. We made our way together up to the corner where we could see the parade approaching. There we waved our little flags and waved our hands back at those who were waving to us. We got a special treat because right as they approached us was the predetermined spot where the band played a patriotic song. We ran along side the parade all the way to the veterans cemetery two blocks up the road. At this point we staked out our favorite spot to watch the short ceremony as the veterans payed respects to those who died at war. At the end of the ceremony there was a three gun salute. We were in awe of the whole thing and it was a tradition that I cherished until I moved away at age 20.
If I close my eyes I can still hear those drum beats coming up the road. I can see the smiles on all of the children's faces and the pride on those of their parents. I can feel the spirit of our small town and the wonderful men and women who participated on this special day.
Thank you to all those who guard and protect us.