Slice of Life: A Three Memorial Day (No One Else Was There)

Field of Honor: Florence, Northampton

We’ve been keeping an active eye during the pandemic social distancing on our elderly neighbor, whose husband (a veteran of the Korean War and a long-time military man) died a year or so ago. We bring her newspaper to her door each morning and mail, too, on rainy days. We check in with her regularly, seeing if she needs anything from the store and reminding her that we’re right here, if she needs us.

The other day, she told us how her husband’s military service was now being represented in the Field of Honor at the Elks Lodge field, where this is the second year in a row the club in the next village over has hosted an entire field of American flags to honor veterans on Memorial Day. We told her we would go there and find his flag, and we did, reading his short biography on a tag on the flag post. We also wandered around with the kids for a bit through the flags, reading about other local veterans and remembering.

No one else was there.

Leeds Memorial Day

Earlier, I had ventured to our village memorial to veterans, which is often the scene of a community gathering to honor fallen soldiers with roots in our village.  I walked by, stopped for a bit in the shade of the trees, and heard the ghost sounds of the trumpet playing Taps in my imagination.

No one else was there.

Finally, our neighbor had wondered if the larger stone memorials in our city downtown now had her husband’s name carved into the stone for the Korean War. She hadn’t been out to check. We decided to investigate yesterday, and while his name is not there (My wife: Who do we call to make it happen?), we again spent some time reading through the names of soldiers of war, now gone.

No one else was there.

It’s strange to find commemoration in the city so quiet, but I’m not surprised, of course. Coming home from the trip to Memorial Hall, I noticed a hand-painted sign that said: Memorial Day Parade This Way, with an arrow pointing down the street. My wife said the city’s mayor (a National Guard veteran, like me) and a few elderly veterans did a car parade through this village of our city, in order to keep intact its record as the oldest consecutive running Memorial Day parade in the entire country. I wish I had known. I would I have watched and clapped, and honored the memories of those soldiers.

I hope others were there.

Peace (remembering it),
Kevin

8 Comments
  1. The quiet of the celebration must have added to the somber ness of the day. At least that’s how your post left me feeling. Thank you for this post.

  2. This has so many layers of emotion and meaning. I kept thinking, “but they are there, and not there.” This remote learning has me rethinking the usual. You hold the complexity of memorials beautifully here. Thank you.

  3. We found empty streets in our new small town yesterday too. It made me wonder what Memorial Day usually looks like here. Hope to find out next year since a flag-filled, but empty, street felt jarring.

  4. Kevin, yes, what a different Memorial Day. I have many memories of Memorial Day parades, but this quiet one was so different. I’m glad you are there for your neighbor, and I’m guessing your wife is going to find out who to call about the missing name. Bless you in these jarring times. (That is the right word.)
    (Thanks again for my comic today!)
    Denise

  5. No one else was there. I imagine, as you were imagining in your walk, that somewhere in the community, family members have remembered their lost ones. I’m glad you wrote about them. I’m glad the parade continued. Our community had to cancel their parade; we should have drove together. Glad your community did. We did put up flags as usual, but cancelled the ceremony. People did show up in family groups, distancing from others. A somber day.

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