Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

Yesterday, while enjoying a relaxing evening at my in-law's lake home, with boaters and fishermen playing out on the water and a wonderful meal spread before us on the table, I asked my seven year old daughter if she knew what Memorial Day means. She wasn't sure. 

I explained to her that Memorial Day is the one day a year we set aside to honor and remember the men and women who have died who fought for our country. I later looked it up on Wikipedia and discovered that it started just after the Civil War and was called Decoration Day to honor the men who died during battle. It has continued on for many generations, now extending to all those service people who have died - whether on active duty or not.

Both my grandfathers served our nation and were able to return home to their families - for which I am especially grateful, because I would not be here if either of them had died in battle. My Grandpa Leo served in World War II and later married my Grandma Pat. They had ten children. He died in 1983. My Grandpa Art served in the Korean War and later married my Grandma Charlotte. Together they had nine children. He recently passed away in 2009. Memorial Day is a time to honor them for their bravery, sacrifice and selflessness. I grew up hearing about their time spent in war and seeing pictures of them in uniform. I was, and still am, very proud of my grandfathers.

But it struck me that Memorial Day has become something far different than what it was intended for. To some, it remains a day to honor our soldiers with memorial services and ceremonies, but it's also come to mean the beginning of the official summer season and an extended weekend to enjoy with family and friends. In Minnesota it means heading to lake homes or campgrounds, boating, picnics, and good food. It also means bumper to bumper traffic on Friday afternoon for anyone heading north to the lake country and Monday afternoon for anyone heading back south to the Twin Cities Metro Area.

Thankfully Hubby and I were heading south on Friday to
the Twins Game. This was the north bound lane not
far from where we live - and it looked like this for 100 miles.
I love Memorial Weekend for all the reasons I mentioned above (except the traffic!), but I also think it's important to keep the real reason for the holiday within our minds and hearts as we enjoy it. It's important to talk to our children about the men and women who served our country and those who continue to do so today.

Our freedom is not free, it comes with a high price tag for those brave enough to pay it.

One way we spend our Memorial Day Weekend
is at my in-law's home. This was taken last night -
just before another thunderstorm rolled in.

The family on the deck at sunset.

My four kiddos throwing rocks into the lake.
What about you? How do you spend the Memorial Day Weekend? Do you have friends and family who served our armed forces? Are you in the Military?


  1. I'm spending the day playing catch-up... :)

    I don't have anyone in my family who has served in the military (that I know of), but I do have close friends who do. I have to admit, too, that the true purpose of Memorial Day didn't sink in for me until a few years ago when I attended a military funeral right on the heels of Memorial Day. One year later, I actually interviewed the family of the Marine who died on the one-year anniversary of his death...Both the funeral and that interview impacted me in huge ways. I'll never forget driving away from their house on the way back to the newspaper office, crying, realizing what that soldier and that family gave up...for all of us.

    1. I didn't realize the true meaning of Memorial Day until I was an adult. As a child I thought Memorial Day was for all people who had died and I didn't understand the connection to our armed forces.

      I don't know anyone who has died in recent service, but I know many people who have been deployed and even that is a huge sacrifice.

      Thanks for your thoughts today! Good luck on the catch up.

  2. Just gorgeous, Gabrielle!! What wonderful memories you're making as a family. Like you, I had to look up the origins of the holiday and when it began, etc. I have a lot to learn... LOVE how you realize you wouldn't be here if your granddads hadn't returned. That brings it home in such a personal way and we realize how HUGE their sacrifice and service was. So many didn't come home. Bless you and your beautiful famiily today!!

    We're grilling hot dogs and making enough pasta salad to feed a small army, then attending a beachside Memorial service today. In the rain! But it always rains here so no biggie;) Bless you.

    1. Laura, I feel blessed to have so many family and friends who live near by with lake homes ~ there is always somewhere to go and someone to visit and we don't have to fight the traffic to get there! It's a very rare thing for a person to grow up in central and northern Minnesota and not have a treasure full of memories of the lake.

      I remember hearing about all the men who died during WWII and realizing early on in my life that my grandfather had fought in that war and lived to tell about it. He met my grandma when he was on leave in Oregon (she grew up in Eugene, Oregon) and he married her and moved her Minnesota where they had ten children. I can't imagine the sacrifice that so many people have made for our country. It's humbling.

      Enjoy your hot dogs and pasta salad - I hope the weather clears for your beachside service. We've broken records for the most rainfall in Minnesota in the month of May! The river behind our house is very high and we were in a flash flood watch last night. It looks like another storm is blowing in from the south as I write this. As long as the river doesn't flood, I will enjoy another storm!


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