Category: Holidays


I know I’m late in posting this, but one of the highlights of summer for me is the 4th of July Parade in our town. It’s a good parade, and very traditional with lots of floats, bands, community organizations, fire departments, military groups, veterans, and, of course, local politicians who want to be “seen”. My husband is on the “CVO” (Combined Veterans Organization) parade committee, and is involved in putting the parade together. This means I go alone, and am free to travel up and down the streets with my camera looking for good photos ops.

One group I always love is the Revolutionary War re-enactment militia. And — of course they shoot the cannon – while all the little children hold their ears, and bury their heads in their mother’s arms: (click any photo to see it larger in Flickr)

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Other military groups:

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1. World War II Vets – ride in various cars and floats
2. Korean War Vets
3. Vietnam Vets

A few bands:

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A few of the community floats and parade entries. There were many more, but this is just a sampling:

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1. Little League
2. Mason’s
3. Long Island East Ski Club. My husband and I were members of this group for a long time when we were younger (and our knees were better…) and took a few wonderful skiing trips out west…
4. Human Resources of the Hamptons
5. Lions Club
6. Kiwanis Club

And – then there are the fire departments….!

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Southampton Fire Department’s antique fire trucks

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1. Long line of fire trucks from North Sea Fire Department
2. The junior fire fighters

In my opinion (and only my opinion) the only negative of this parade – – and many parades, for that matter – – are the more politically motivated parade entries. Each year there are one or two, and I see them – at least in this atmosphere – as unnecessarily divisive. Parades are there to bring people together. Political statements divide. Or – at least that is the way things are in the present climate. Such was the affect of this year’s main political entry – the Suffolk County 9-12 Project – The Tea Party. It was one of the largest entries – many banners, marchers, a few decorated cars… I could not deny that it was impressive!

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In previous years there were entries from the “other side of the aisle” – which I didn’t like either, so it’s not about the Tea Party group, per se. Can we not put aside political divisiveness for one day and join together in what we DO share — the celebration of our nation’s birth. Since the parade there has been some contentious discourse in the “letters to the editor” of our local paper about an alleged ugly, unkind bumper sticker on the side of one of the cars. I didn’t see it, but I cannot deny that it could have been there – like on the other side of the car from where I could see. But – whatever the case, the ultimate result is divisiveness among us.

After the parade is over, I head for the Veteran’s Memorial Hall to meet up with my husband who is there after his work is done with the parade. we have some refreshments – usually hot dogs, chips and cake – before we go on home.

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1. The judges stand at the end of the parade
2. Sag Harbor Community Band plays a few patriotic selections after the parade is over
3. Veterans Memorial Hall
4. Across the street from Vets Hall is the World War I Memorial Park where both the Memorial Day and Veterans Day services are held.

When my hubby first began working on this parade, I didn’t like being left alone to watch it. In the early years, I didn’t always attend, as I’d always thought a parade is a social event, enjoyed by families and friends together. But – it didn’t take long for me to pick myself up and just … go. Once the photography bug hit me, it gave me another focus while I watched the festivities. I also found it was fun to be a free spirit at a parade. As I walk up and down the streets looking for photos, I always stop to chat with people I know along the way.

I think this is what I like about parades – – the joining of together of a community to commemorate a particular holiday or event. And, in the process the community (and friends and family) bond(s), as it also celebrates itself.


It was a gray day on Sunday, May 27th, and I took a photo of another photo of a group of bald eagles taken in Alaska. It hangs over top of my desk where I do all my computer work. It was something I purchased at “Springtime Made in the South”. Bald Eagles are the symbol of the US – and very apropos for Memorial Day which is to come the following day…

365 photo #148 (May 27th)

the 365 photo for Monday, May 28th will be taken from photos I took at the Memorial Day services at Agawam Park in Southampton. My husband is a Vietnam Vet and we both think it important to honor those soldiers who gave their lives in the service of our country. My husband marches either with the group of veterans, or with the color guard. It was a beautiful day — hot and sunny (almost too hot!), and a perfect day for photos.

365 photo #149 (May 28th). This is one of the three wreathes which represent the members of the three Veterans organizations in our town, Veterans of Foreign Wars, The American Legion, and Polish American Veterans, who gave their lives. During the service they are ceremonially placed on the World War I Memorial by representatives of their groups. I took this photo before they were moved. You can see the members of the Sweet Adelines, who were a musical part of the service, blurred in the background

Bonus photos:

Prior to the service there is a small parade where veterans and others who will take part in the service march from the Presbyterian Church, down Jobs Lane to Agawam Park

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1. Southampton High School Band
2. Colonial Militia

Veterans gather and march

In addition there are the boy scouts and Civil Air Patrol, and of course town officials, and the speakers. then the service began in the park:

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1. Agawam Park, showing the World War I Memorial in the front.
2. Sweet Adelines provided some patriotic music

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1. Southampton High School Brass Choir
2. The representatives of the three veterans organizations carry their wreathe to the memorial

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1. The speaker – Jason Cofield. One thing he mentions is the importance of the service and sacrifice of those who remained at home – like the moms – and he brought his mother up to the podium during his speech.
2. Veterans salute during taps.

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1. Raising the US flag on the town’s nautical flag pole
2. It’s raised and in place.

I’ve been a bit negligent on posting, but I have not neglected taking photos. So – to continue the photos of the day from where I left off….

The following photo – From Friday – is a simple one — a minuscule, delicate weed – barely noticeable, but oh so intricate and lovely. It’s the way life is — the smallest things are often beautiful, but it requires one to have an unhurried mindset to notice. It’s times like this when I wish I had a macro lens… I was also practicing using the manual setting on my camera and experimenting with some of the camera settings to see what combination would make a good photo. After several false starts – this is the one I kept:

365 photo #69

On the next day (Saturday) – Ray and I went up to Harbourtown, to get out and take advantage of the lovely day. We stopped in some of the shops, then walked past the Harbourtown Lighthouse onto the dock. On a pier wall next to the dock there were some pelicans sunning, which are Saturday’s 365 photo. I love the way some of them were sleeping — all curled up with their beaks in their feathers. While photographing the pelicans, I met another man there who was using the exact same 100-400 mm lens – also taking pelican pictures, too! I wonder how his turned out?

365 photo #70

Bonus photos (click to make them larger in Flickr):

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1. a few of the shops in Harbourtown
2. The Harbourtown Lighthouse – as seen through the trees as we approached the dock.

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1. kayaks along the edge of the water (Calibogue Sound)
2. a little gull on a post

On Sunday Ray and I went to Hilton Head’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, so my 365 photo will come from there. Here’s a leprechaun who started the parade:

365 photo #71

Bonus Photos:

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1. I was SO not ready to take this shot, so this is as good as it got. It’s a cheer leading group, and they did all sorts of tricks along the route. To see it clearly, click to see it larger
2. reflections of parade goers in water by the side of the road. It wasn’t just the parade I photographed! 🙂

Today (or – considering the time I’m posting now – yesterday!) I took more photos of the azaleas which are at their peak now. This photo is of some white azaleas with the blurred background of the many colors of other azaleas and green leaves!:

365 photo #72

bonus photos:

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Azaleas of many colors. The different color azaleas were planted together so that they now are intermixed!

Cat decor… and Love

Question: How many cats figurines can one person have to decorate a house.

Answer: As many as they want!

For yesterday’s photo of the day, I took a photograph of one of my favorite kitty items – – some “rock cats” — i.e. — cats painted on river rocks. I found these in a shop here in Hilton Head, and then more of them in a shop on River Street in Savannah. Each and every time I visited these stores, I *had* to purchase at least one — first for me, and then for my friend, Claire, who ended up loving them as much as I did. In fact, she puts one of the smaller rock kitties into her manger scene. I even put one in Ray’s Christmas stocking one year!

They weren’t horribly expensive – the little ones going for only (about) $10., and the larger, more intricately painted ones for maybe $35. or $40. Each and every one has the words “Lats Cats” painted on the bottom of the rock kitty.  I finally asked one of the shop keepers who the artist was. According to her, she was from some place in New York state (I can’t remember where at this point), and she collected the rocks from rivers in that area. However, she also had a home on Hilton Head Island, which is why they were being sold in this area.

I am sure I kept this artist in business, as I have so many — and so does Claire, for that matter. However, as suddenly as we found them, they just as suddenly disappeared — sold out — and no more were forthcoming. The shop in Hilton Head ultimately changed hands, and I have no clue if there are any more anywhere else. These are my rock cats that live here in Hilton Head:

365 photo #44

Today is Valentine’s Day – and the photo for today is to wish everyone a most happy and loving day.  I know this day can be a difficult one if we are not where we would like to be in our relationships – whether they be with a spouse, parent, child, or friend. But – I have this mug, a close-up which is today’s 365 photo, purchased a few years ago from Starbucks. It always makes me happy whether or not other things are going well for me in my “love life”. It is a white mug with only one red painted heart with many etched hearts all around it. *I* have one heart to give, if only I will open it – and be vulnerable to both giving and receiving love and caring. I have my morning coffee in this mug on Valentine’s Day — but also on many other days of the year, as well.  As I sip, I encourage myself to open my heart:

365 photo #45

Cats in the Manger?

This morning I took a photo of my Nativity set which is still up, but only for a day or so more. (I take my decorations down after Epiphany, or “Three Kings Day”). Placed in among the other figures of that first Christmas are my two “bobble head” black cats. Because Jesus was born in a stable, I have always maintained that there would have to be some “rodent control” there. There is no better animal than a cat to do this little chore! Ok … I know I’m being a little facetious, and speak about this with “tongue in cheek”. But – despite the silliness of this, I find myself always wanting to add a cat to the other animals that graced the First Christmas

365 photo #5

365 Photo #2

Yesterday I didn’t get outside to take photos and found myself at night with no photo taken for my photo of the day. Trust me — this will happen more often than I would like it to, as I’m quite the procrastinator – even when it comes to doing things I enjoy. However, when caught with little time, sometimes I find myself more creative than I might otherwise be. We have guests visiting us this week, and my friend Claire pointed out to me that my glass cat “nicknack” on the end table by the sofa was refracting the light from the Christmas tree. When we looked into the glass, you could see the Christmas tree upside down! I don’t know the scientific reason it appears that way, but I thought it to be an interesting photo. A few years ago Claire had taken a similar picture of their Christmas tree reflected upside down in the top of a glass jar. I thought I’d give that same type photo a try.

It was not an easy photo to take because the room was dark, with the only light in the room being from the Christmas tree. I messed with settings and took a number of experimental photos. Once I chose the best photo, I increased the levels and saturation and lowered the contrast and shadows in my photo editing program. And — by the way — the large lights above the glass cat head are blurred Christmas lights from the tree.

And — one more bonus photo, where I also experimented with settings, as well as some editing afterward:


After the rush of holidays in the fall, beginning with Labor Day and ending with Christmas, there is a “dry spell” during the months of January – March until we get to Easter.  Or … that’s how it feels to me.  In the beginning of January, I’m relieved to have the holidays in the past, so I can get back to normal.  Yet – – as the cold of January and February encase us, we long for something new, bright, celebratory and full of emotion.  The “defacto” holiday, “Super Bowl Sunday” fills some of those needs, but Valentine’s Day fulfills them all. 

We celebrate “romance” and all those wonderful emotions.  The color “red” – the color of our “heart” – of “blood” – which pumps wildly when we are madly in love – is the symbol of the day.  We wear red clothing.  The roses that we give to each other are red.  Red is a warm color – in sharp contrast to the white snow on the ground and the lack of floral color.  To immerse oneself in “red” and it’s warmth, and what it symbolizes feels mighty good! 

The difficulty – at least for me – comes with the reality that romance requires something of us.  I’m not referring to the physical act of purchasing gifts for a loved one, or other material representations of romance.  Bottom line – it’s about the attitude of romance … of love … of “giving” and what is required of us to be in that emotional place.

“Romance” and “love” are not nouns.  They are verbs … “action words”.  It’s not a state of being.  It’s a state of action … of movement. 

I guess if the truth be known, I struggle with this, and I personally think others do as well.  Valentine’s Day invokes feelings in me of inadequacy and guilt that I’m just not quite good enough in that department.  I know that I don’t have the vulnerability of spirit that I believe is important to being a person who loves well.  I suspect I don’t show love to others easily because I don’t feel worthy of the love I receive.  I encase my heart with my fear.  I don’t let it in because I don’t feel lovable, despite the fact that I know intellectually I’m loved by the special people in my life.  Also – when growing up, our family was not the demonstrative kind, and overtures of affection were not often modeled.  We all knew we loved each other, but didn’t overtly show it to each other. 

On Valentine’s Day, sometimes I wish for the day to simply “end”.  I don’t want to think about all of this, but the day, by it’s very existence, reminds me of my shortcomings.

It has also occurred to me that besides being a convenient distraction from the desolateness of “winter”, why is it that we “need” a “Valentine’s Day” to show our love to the special people in our lives?  Shouldn’t EVERY day be Valentine’s Day?  Maybe it’s because we don’t routinely show our love and we need the excuse of a day in order to do so?  Maybe institutionalizing “love”, as we have done on Valentine’s Day, gives us permission to show it in a way that privately giving ourselves permission to “show love” does not.  I suspect I’m not the only one who struggles with showing love.

I also know that it causes distress and sadness for people who do not have a “significant other”, or who have just lost one to either death or divorce.  I remember the year 2001 when Ray and I were going through hard times in our marriage.  He was threatening divorce, and we were, for all practical purposes, separated.  (Thankfully we got back together! Smile).  Valentine’s Day that year was morose – reminding me of the dire circumstances of my life at that point.  So – I can relate to how others feel on this day.

The truth is that love is not only about our significant others, and my “Valentines” include my son, my mom, my special friends.  It’s not just about romantic love.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we focused just as much on those other loves in our lives?

I didn’t do enough for Ray this year on Valentine’s Day.  I didn’t even get a card for him!  I feel  lousy and don’t know why I didn’t do it.  I love him.  What was the big deal about getting a card??  I reminded myself on Saturday – – then again on Sunday – – then again yesterday, the morning of Valentine’s Day itself.  I didn’t do it each time I thought about it.  I felt even more guilty when he came through with not one, but two cards – one from our cats, and one from him. 

Ray and I usually just go out for dinner for Valentine’s Day to a nice restaurant, and we did so on Friday night to avoid the Valentine’s Day madhouse in the restaurants.  It’s easy for us to choose the place, as we both favor Italian food, and our dinner together at Michael Anthony’s was superb.

We do not always give gifts to each other to honor the day, and neither of us did anything this year.  There have been a few years where we have – – but most times not.  And, sadly – Ray has been much better about it than I have been.  Again – why do I resist?  I love Ray – very much.  He’s my world.  He’s my rock.  But, I suspect it’s this attitude of love – and romance, and the ability to SAY and SHOW that to him – that is lacking in me. 

It all started in 1967, the year I was a senior in high school.  I vaguely remember the discussions about whether it would work to have a playoff between the NFL and the now defunct AFL.  (They merged).  I couldn’t figure out why they were so worried about it’s success.  In baseball the World Series between the American and National Leagues has been a long time success.  Why wouldn’t a “super bowl” also succeed – at least among football fans, and there were clearly enough of those!

They had no idea just HOW successful it would become!

I vaguely remember the first game, but many of the subsequent games were lost on me.  I was not – and still am not – a football fan.  I didn’t give it a second thought during my college years, and don’t remember much about it in the early years of marriage.  However, at some point in the 1980’s, I could see this had become quite a thing.   As non football fans, though, neither Ray nor I ever watched.  In the mid 1980’s, Ray and I were invited to our first Super Bowl party, complete with junk food party snacks, great company, and “the game” on TV.  I remember little about it except that “The Refrigerator”, William Perry was playing.  I think it was 1986, Super Bowl XX.

Another year – I think 1992 – when out in Sun Valley, Idaho with the Long Island East Ski Club, we “took over” a sports bar on Super Bowl Sunday when the New York Giants were victorious over Buffalo.  What a raucous night that one was!  It was fun to be with a crowd away from home watching the hometown football team!

Then there was the year the Philadelphia Eagles were there – 2005.  That’s  my childhood home, and I had an interest in it’s outcome.  However – what a bust that was.  They were creamed by the New England Patriots.

As each year passed, “mania” took hold of football and non football fans alike.  The hype during the two weeks prior to the game has become just as important as the game itself.  It costs millions to place an ad on the Super Bowl, but they are unique, made especially for the game, and have become entertainment in their own right, worthy to be watched again on YouTube!  There are polls throughout the internet to vote for the best ad!  The day itself has become sacred with nothing else planned but Super Bowl parties.  Traditions on watching the game have evolved to a “higher level”.  During one game, I went out to pick up a pizza, and did not meet another car either coming our going.  As I drove, I sneaked a peek inside the windows of a few houses as I passed by, and could see groups of people glued to TV’s.

Super Bowl Sunday has become a holiday in it’s own right now.  It was never decreed to be such – but it has become that over the 45 years of it’s existence.  In my opinion, it’s far surpassed the interest that the World Series generates!  Ray and I watch now, probably only because of the hype, and an excuse to get out the junk food snacks and call that “dinner”!  It seems odd, however, because it’s the only game I watch all season.  Prior to the game I sort of “decide” who I will root for based upon rather odd and unimportant criteria, because during the actual season, I generally could care less!  This year, for example, I rooted for Pittsburgh because I am from Pennsylvania, although my affinity to them was very weak.  Last year I rooted for the Saints because I loved their traditions (“who dat!”) and it was about time they won!  I often prefer the underdog to win, which is why I don’t have much love for Yankees baseball.

This year the game itself was ok – not a landslide which, to me, becomes boring.  However, the rest was kind of a disappointment.  The ads were only “meh” (except for the Volkswagon ad!).  The half time show, though entertaining, wasn’t “all that”, which may say more about my advanced age than the quality of the show.  The screw up of the National Anthem was just plain embarrassing, and I was embarrassed for her.  In all fairness, I appreciate what nervousness can do to make one forget the words of even the most familiar song.  However, if she hadn’t used all those flourishes with the tune, she might have been more able to focus more on the correct words.

If nothing else, the game provides a means of unification, brief though it probably is.  Instead of focusing on all the political and social angst that seems to plague our nation, the game steals our attention, if only for a moment.  We may root for different teams, but the fun of the game is what brings us together.

It’s over now, and we can put football to bed for another 7 months or so.  (Is it only that long?)  We can now focus on hockey and basketball, and baseball isn’t all that far behind….!

9/11 2010 – a day later.

The following entry was something I posted yesterday on 9/11 in my private Live Journal friends group.  I posted it with comments disabled, as I did not want to discuss those things on such a day, in order to keep the day more as a memorial.  Now that the day is over, I will be re-enabling comments on that post soon.  I also thought I’d bring the post over here.

Today I sit alone in the house while Ray is "up the island" taking a Red Cross course on "mass casualties" – or something like that.  What an ironic course to be taking on a day like today…?!  But – my alone time is causing me to think about the day and it’s meaning – but it’s also moved to where our nation is 9 years after the horrible attack – and I’m sad about it.

I don’t often get into politics here, but I suspect I’ll touch on it in this entry, because it can’t be helped.

For one, our nation surely isn’t as unified as we were during the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.  We banded together and were there for each other like no other time I can remember.  It was a testament to the human spirit as to what we could be — and really are — if we allow ourselves to be that way.

Lots of things have entered our lives since then – most notably wars (Iraq and Afghanistan), and there’s nothing like "a little war" (said tongue in cheek) to bring out the worst in us, that’s for sure.  In all fairness, it can also bring out the best in us.  I *have* seen valor, bravery and patriotism among our service people, and, as a nation, I think we are proud of them for serving their country well, and with honor.  However, this is not what I’m talking about.  It’s quite understandable that emotions will run high during wars because "someone’s son/daughter" – "someone’s wife/husband" are getting KILLED in these wars.  We don’t want them to die "in vain".  If we are not sure – as a nation – that the purposes of these wars will bring about the desired result, then conflict and division among citizens ensues.  In addition, we are also not in agreement as to what the “desired result” should be!  And, it’s my opinion that not enough of us have been sure of these things.  Whether it’s "true" or "not true" that these wars’ purpose has value, or they have accomplished their purposes, we have not been unified as a nation about them.

I also think that the actions of George Bush post 2001, then the Presidential election in 2008 and Obama Presidency have polarized us as people.  I don’t intend to take sides in that statement — only to say that this has been the result.  Red state / blue state … rich / poor … urban / rural … Christian / non-Christian … Republican / Democrat … liberal / conservative … tea party / coffee party.  Somehow in the time lapse between 2001 and now, we have stopped listening to each other with respect.  Ad hominem attacks abound, and it’s easier to call people ugly things when they have been reduced to less than "human" or a "stereotype" in one’s mind.  We can’t seem to understand others who differ from us.  It’s not that we have to agree with them.  Why not simply understand that they have good reasons, based upon their personal circumstances why they believe what they do, and respect them for that.

Now … let’s add a little fear into the equation – – or, more fear than we already have had about the state of the world and possible terrorism.  Enter:  the faltering economy.  People have lost their jobs, pensions have been reduced to unlivable levels, and many are less sure about their futures.  Humans do funny things when we’re scared — like get angry at the nearest target, get into the blame game, and be even more ugly to others.  We huddle in the safety of those like us.

Now, even 9/11 has entered the conflict and we are divided over that.  Let’s hate *all* Muslims … let’s burn the Quran.  The anger that we legitimately have at a few extremists is now being aimed at an entire religion.  IMO, Christianity has it’s extreme elements, too, and it behooves Christians to look within a bit more and make sure they’re blameless before they go after another.  (And, I’m a Christian)  True — Christians have not run planes into buildings, but there is no difference between Christian (or any) extremism and theirs in their mentality.  Also (IMO), extremism begets extremism on the other side.  Humans so often react as a pendulum does.  If things go too far one way, we have a tendency to make it go that far the other way, probably out of fear to keep whatever it is as far away as possible.

This entire thing saddens me, because in all these things, imo, we have lost sight of what happened — and the meaning of this day — to remember those who died, and especially to honor the rescuers who were killed in the line of that duty.  It was awful and very wrong what happened, and anger is understandable toward the extremists who did the acts.  But — IMO — to blame all Muslims, and to allow this to turn our country (and people) into a Muslim hating country is not fair to them.  Ok — I’ve heard that they hate us, so we’re just being stupid to be understanding and respectful.  Well — to respond to this – the Christian message is not "revenge", but one of "taking the higher road" – or – that’s how *I* personally see it.  Bottom line:  how is peace and understanding going to be achieved with this mentality?   I’m not saying that we roll over and play dead, and we must be vigilant as far as unearthing possible terror threats.  Terrorists do exist!  It’s just this hate we seem to be feeling for anything and anyone that is different, and disagrees with us is surely not helpful.

I was going to leave comments open, but have decided as I write this that I’d rather not.  Today is not a day to debate any of this.  Instead, what I’d like is for any readers to simply remember those who died — and to honor those who who tried to rescue those trapped, but were also killed.  Please — just do that.

Of course the comments here on this entry are enabled.  🙂

And … as I think on this, I realize that this issue is a lot more complex than one blog post written by one “rank amateur” can ever cover.  Scratching the surface of the issue is a start.

I realize that Memorial Day has come and gone for 2010, but that day – and since – have brought a lot of my feelings about the holiday to the surface, and I’ve needed a bit of time to sort them out.  In many ways, this holiday is very straight forward – honoring our fallen servicemen and women.  Yet – in my opinion, it has become – at least in my mind – a bit complex to know how to “celebrate” this.  It almost requires that one more carefully define the word “celebrate” in order to begin.

When I was a child, I am not sure that my family made sure that I was abundantly clear as to the meaning of the day.  I’m sure they mentioned the purpose, but clearly, it didn’t sink in to the extent that it should.  Of course it meant a day off from school, and that was paramount – and joyous – for any school age student.  In many ways, that took precedence in my mind – far and above the reason we were getting that day off.

Our town had a nice sized Memorial Day parade – and it was our custom to go.  Later, as I began playing in the high school band, I became a part of that parade.  It then became about learning the music – meeting the band up at the high school to get ready – then marching.  It was in one of those parades that I lost the end of my flute.  Flutes are put away in their cases in three parts, and the last part was what fell off as I was marching.    My mom has a picture of me in a panic as I was noticing this for the first time.  Luckily – someone found it and it was returned to me – and it wasn’t broken, so no harm done.  For years, Memorial Day brought back *that* memory!

You would think that the parade would have brought on home the meaning of the day – with cars full of veterans, but it didn’t.  Clearly, I was self absorbed and couldn’t see past my own small role – and did not see the larger picture of why we were doing this in the first place.

Then that night the family gathered at my Aunt Betty and Uncle Ed’s for a picnic.  They had a farm and served lots of fresh veggies and fruits – including strawberries, which had just ripened.  I’m sure – knowing our family – there was a prayer prior to eating.  I’m also sure that the reason for the holiday was mentioned in that prayer.  But – I continued to remain oblivious.

I guess the reason for the holiday was too remote for me.  At that time, we were not in any wars.  World War II and the Korean War were over and the Vietnam war had barely started, which was not even considered a “war”.  So – to this very naive child, war was “in the past” – over and done with.  I didn’t try to “connect” with the deaths from previous wars because – again — I was self absorbed.  Death had not invaded my consciousness as no one I knew had died of anything!  The reality is that I needed a good old fashioned attitude adjustment, and that did not happen.

In short – I saw Memorial Day as a day for a fun parade – – and a picnic with fresh strawberries at my aunt and uncle’s.

Fast forward to the 1970’s as a newly married woman.  Ray had served in Vietnam from 1969-70.  Yes – he was drafted and served in that “little conflict”, which was never legally defined as a “war”, but probably should have been considering the lives lost.  He saw and experienced “death” that I had not comprehended in my youth.  And – it affected him greatly.

Memorial Day confused me back in those days.  Ray refused to join any festivities where – God forbid – there might be “fun”.  He lay around and was “morose”.  Yet – he never could explain to me what was going on and why he always was in such a bad mood during that day.  To confuse things further, Memorial Day is considered to be – in the Hamptons – the beginning of the “summer season”.  Traffic increases and Ray’s business would get wildly busy – with lots of ornery people demanding this or that – or – that’s how Ray saw it.  So – I assumed that Ray’s bad mood was about the business issue, and didn’t see his sadness over deaths in Vietnam.  In all fairness, in the beginning of all of this, Ray was unable to verbalize this to me because it was out of his consciousness, too  All I know is that I felt “cheated out of a holiday”.  I didn’t see the reasons behind what was going on.

And – – this brings us to today.  Ray has had his consciousness raised from his time at the Long Island Vet Center – learning about how the war affected him, and I now know and understand what was happening to him on so many Memorial Days.  I have finally had this attitude adjustment I needed early on.  Ray has also worked through some of his issues, and Memorial Day isn’t quite as “morose”.  Yet – there is meaning in all we do on that day.  We attend the Memorial Day services in the park, and Ray marches with the other vets.  However, in the afternoon, we don’t lie around like in years past.

I asked Ray this year if he felt there was anything wrong with gathering with family and having a picnic, or going to a cocktail party, which we also did the day before Memorial Day.  His response?  It’s fine and it’s good – and we do it BECAUSE WE CAN.  And, we CAN because we have that freedom to do so.  It is our servicemen (and women) – both veterans and those who sacrificed their lives – who have made sure we have these freedoms.  It is a time to DO these fun things, but do them consciously – knowing and expressing to each other why we are blessed to be able to do them.  It is a celebration – of our freedoms – of our families and friends – and a remembrance – AND celebration — of the lives of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, who made these things possible.  Not all wars are equally “honorable”, and not all truly defend our freedoms as we hope their purposes are.  That is a political issue only and is NOT the point.  All servicemen and women are honorable and are doing their job for our freedoms.  And – that is the point.

I do have a problem with the greeting, “Happy Memorial Day”, which I hear all over.  It is not necessarily a happy day.  It is contemplative, though not morose.  It is a celebration, though a thoughtful one.  As we entered the cocktail party (at the golf club) which we attended the day before Memorial Day, Ray and I were greeted by “Happy Memorial Day” from a staff member there.  I visibly cringed, because the person who said it IS a vet – and did a tour in Iraq.  He should not have had to say that – – but I know he was only doing his job, as I noted he said it to all who arrived.

I am very glad to have made peace with Memorial Day and am now in synch with the true meaning of the day.  🙂

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