For me Memorial Day will always be May 30th. It was good enough to work from 1868 until 1970. Blame the change on those who cash in on three day weekends. It started out as Decoration Day where Civil War veterans were honored. Growing up in Colorado the Civil War was something that happened back there. About five years ago I visited Gettysburg and spent a day with a private guide. It was there that I began to grasp the horrific realities of civil war. Brother versus brother, with no real winners. I fear today that the divisions we are experiencing are the residues of wounds flamed by the incendiary rhetoric of us versus them, coded racism, and calls to arms. God forbid if we descend to those times again. It became Memorial Day officially in 1967, a day to honor all those who have passed before us, especially Veterans.
My best Memorial Day memories go back to riding with my dad and his buddies to go fishing on Memorial Day. It was was also “opening day” for getting after the tasty trout who used to take the winter off from being the object of flies, worms, spinners or dough balls. We would get in my dad’s ‘53 Chevy pick up (complete with port windows and starter on the floor). It was 1960 and I had just finished the 5th grade. We were coming back from Lake San Isabel with a nice bunch of rainbows and brookies. The AM radio went to KCSJ 590. We listened intently to the Indy 500. Jim Rathmann beat Roger Ward to the finish line. My dad was a Roger Ward fan. The announcers made the race feel like it was running through our truck cab. I can still hear sounds of cars racing by as the 200 laps kept this 10 year olds attention. Today I went with my sister Rita Jo, and nephew Jed and great niece Emily and great nephew Westin, to Ft. Logan to “decorate” the grave of my dad Bill, and mom Pat. I watched as two of their heirs knelt and placed flowers at the simple white military tombstone. MK, uncle Dave and mom Allie all respectfully observed.
They honored grandparents they never knew except through stories. We were all were wearing masks and standing our 6 feet apart. After a circle of prayer we headed to a local park where yellow tape was placed around all of the kid’s play equipment. It was surreal. Jed hauled out his grill and we had an innovative “tailgate” complete with “Sloppers” ( a PUEBLO favorite) grilled burgers smothered in green chili. Jed hit it out of the park. We had vegan meat and chili especially prepared by Jed. It was a beautiful time… maybe the most special I have had in months. Jed said, “My favorite meal in the world is a “slopper” first introduced to me by Grandpa Bill when I was a little kid”.
Whatever it is called, whenever it falls, Memorial Day is for memories both past and present.
Onward and Upward,