We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
---by Moina Michael
While growing up in Indiana, Memorial Day meant the Indy 500 and the beginning of summer. I never appreciated the history of the day or of our military. Many members of my family served in the various branches of the military and many of those saw action. Yet, no one talked about it much, so I never understood the meaning of the holiday.
Four summers ago, I visited Uncle Robert and Aunt Golden on a Sunday. We went to the old church the Rhine family had been members of for nearly a century. Aunt Golden fixed us a huge spread of food (there were only 4 of us) and I admit committing the sin of gluttony that afternoon. I hadn't tasted her cooking in about 25 years. It may be a good thing because I would weigh about 400 pounds by now! Anyways, Uncle Robert showed us around the county. We saw the old farmhouse that his parents lived in and he grew up in. That same house is where my grandparents (his sister was my grandmother) were married and my mother was born.
Then he took us to the family cemetary. It is where several Rhines and Merrills are buried. It is in the middle of corn or bean fields (I can't remember) and is kept up nicely by the county. There are some huge oak and elm trees to shade the area. I took several pictures of the plots. Uncle Robert mentioned that the family used to have a picnic every Decoration Day (May 30) at the site and spend the day cleaning the cemetary and replanting flowers. I think I have missed out on that special event.
Then we traveled to some other cemetaries and he showed us graves of Civil War veterans. These names have become heroes in my eyes. I am sure they would say they did what they had to do or what God compelled them to do.
I guess what I am trying to say is that there is more to Memorial Day than racing, eating and summer vacation. Many men and women gave their lives for us to enjoy these things. I ask that you not forget. Thanks Uncle Robert.