My memories of Memorial Day are strongly tied to my high school marching band. We didn’t have a big band (only about 30 kids) and we weren’t a great band. However, every year on Memorial Day, we’d pull out our marching band uniforms for the only time all year to march in the parade that would ultimately lead us to the cemetery in town. There we’d play the national anthem, God Bless America and then one of our trumpet players would play “taps”.
I remember that the crowd for the parade seemed to thin a little more every year. I remember that it always seemed to rain. I remember watching the members of the VFW as they stood at attention during “taps”, with their hats and jackets letting you know which war they’d fought in. I remember that, even though the crowd was small and the average age was at least 60, there was a pride and sadness that filled the people of my small community, remembering those who had fought and not come home, as well as those who had come home but were slowly leaving this world for the next one-by-one.
I’m not always the biggest supporter of war. However, I have respect for those who put their life on the line for what they think will make our country safer. A small parade and ceremony each year in a small town in rural Michigan, although I didn’t know it at the time, taught me that respect.