When I was a kid I always loved Memorial Day. Mostly because it meant we’d all pile into Dad’s red chevy and head to the park.
Once we got to the park, the fun started. There we would converge with a bevy of aunts, uncles, cousins, and family friends to start putting the feast together.
Mom always made the best potato salad, Aunt Aggie brought her jello salad, Dad and the men comandeered the barbecue and threw on the dogs and burgers. The smell was heavenly and the tables were laden with everything from deviled eggs to watermelons as big as me.
And there were plenty of other families doing the same. It almost seemed like a big old block party.
The park was just across the way from a small amusement park and my brother Alan, my cousin Tom and I would sneak to the edge of the property and watch the screaming people digging on the roller coaster. We’d lie in the grass and watch for hours, daydreaming about taking that big ride.
We were too little – but we sure could dream.
Eventually Mom would call us back and we ate until we had to lay flat on our backs in the grass because it was the only position that didn’t make our stomachs hurt.
The bees and flies buzzed overhead and we swatted and sweated in the humid air but was still the best day of the year.
Once the sun went down, we each got 6 sparklers that we could light and wave around. I always ended up stepping on one and burning my foot – couldn’t keep shoes on me. But I still loved it.
Then the fireworks, where we oo’d and ahh’d throughout the entire display.
Then back in the red Chevy and falling asleep in the backseat…
When I was older I learned the meaning of Memorial Day – to honor Americans who had died in the defence of our great nation.
I have to admit, it made the holiday a little less gleeful and yet more important.
Today, I still love the holiday because it harkens the memories of family outings, good food and innocent fun – but it also inspires pride in my country and the people who sacrificed everything so we could have so much.
I hope at some point during the day you’ll say a little prayer of thanks and blessing to those people who have made what we have possible. I know I will.
Have a great and safe Memorial Day.