MEMORIAL DAY - 2010
My very early memories of Memorial Day are of sitting on the curb in front of my Dad's business in Kennebunk waiting for the parade. The parade formed at the far west end of the town, stopped at the Mousam River Bridge to pay tribute to "..those who perished on the sea.." by tossing wreaths into the water. A bugler played taps and the march proceeded eastward through town to WWI Memorial, and then on to the cemetery where military honors were performed. Since I was only four or five my memories may be short a few details. I do remember we all had a flag to wave, and we were always dressed up. White patent leather shoes, ribbons in our hair and summery dresses. There were WWI veterans with their color guards. Henry Parsons, Earl Smith, Freddy Rouleau on his wooden bicycle with one enormous wheel and one tiny one. Someone, maybe George Cousins dressed up in an Uncle Sam suit..... We were well aware of the meaning of the day. There had been wars to establish America, and wars to keep it safe.
Many men had given their lives to those ends, and before we could celebrate their victories, we did honor their sacrifice. Commerce stopped and families held reunions.
Nearly all businesses closed. That was probably around 1935/36.
Since then there have been several wars which American servicemen have been drawn into by our government. I was too young at the beginning of WWII to have a real opinion of the merit of our involvement. My brother and most of his friends were in various services. Word came that a young pilot, only child of a well known family had been shot down; that another one had been taken prisoner in Germany; that a ship had sunk and a sailor was among the crew. The town population was around 3000 so losses were felt by everyone. These were the "kids" who played football, basketball, baseball and competed in track with everyone's kids. Memorial Day from then on took on a whole new meaning for me. There have been several wars and actions in my lifetime. Now Lowe's and Ace Hardware are declaring Memorial Day as a day for "fun and fixing projects" with no reference to the real meaning of the day. It makes me angry and sad. Yes, life goes on, but as it does we should always be mindful of and honor those who have made that possible.
There is a lot of music suitable for Memorial Day. America The Beautiful; God Bless America; God Bless the USA; You're A Grand Old Flag; Stars and Stripes Forever; and of course, the service anthems: American Patrol, Caissons Go Rolling Along, Air Force Song; Anchors Aweigh; Marines' Hymn; Coast Guard Song. Dennis Awe made a medley of the service songs which is very good. Choy Lozada, when he was with Lowrey, put together an organ medley of sounds which are very appropriate. Choy's arrangements are on a floppy disk but can be transferred to a USB stick.
Please enjoy your Memorial Day weekend, but don't forget the reason for it.
Keep a song in your heart and keep the music playing.