I loved the adventure of Memorial Day as a child. We placed flowers on relatives’ graves at our local cemetery and made a day-long pilgrimage to my parents’ childhood communities to decorate more family plots. Flowers were everywhere. We dressed in our new summer clothes, played with cousins we didn’t often see, had picnics and potluck dinners, and heard family stories over our ancestors’ headstones. In our community, Memorial Day was about remembering everyone who had died.
It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that Memorial Day was really about remembering those who served our country. My first brush with the terrible possibilities that might await those in the military came when I was ten. The Cold War was rapidly approaching the boiling point and relations between the US and Russia escalated with the Cuban Missile Crisis, and a nuclear war seemed imminent. READ MORE