Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Upholding Memorial Day traditions

I did two things Monday that I try to do every Memorial Day.

First, I made sure I attended the Memorial Day Parade in the town where I now live. It's something I've been doing as a kid. I wrote about those childhood Memorial Day celebrations in my Monday print column.

Since it was a beautiful morning, my wife and I combined our morning walk with the parade. We walked all over town, then paid our respects to the true idea of Memorial Day by watching the parade and clapping loudly as the various veteran groups marched by.

I never served in the military, and it's something I'm not especially comfortable talking about.

That usually doesn't stop me, or a lot of people like me. I have this platform, along with the newspaper, and I'm not shy about using it.

But I always think twice about commenting on veterans' issues, because the truth of the matter is I don't have a clue what any of those guys went through. So I defer to people like Media Mayor Bob McMahon and former County Councilman Wally Nunn, men who know first-hand what the sacrifices of Memorial Day are all about.

Memorial Day took on added meaning this year, because there is no shortage of outrage over the continuing news from the Veterans Administration on the mishandling of vets' affairs.

This should not be this difficult. President Obama needs to get this right, or get rid of the people in charge and find some people who can get the job done.

I was reminded of the sacrifice that is at the heart of Memorial Day with the other tradition I upheld yesterday. I drove out to my home town of Oxford and paid a visit to the cemetery. I really only get back out to town a couple of times a year any more, but Memorial Day has always been something of a special day for me, and for the town.

And yesterday was especially glorious. I don't know why, but there always seems to be a stiff breeze blowing through the cemetery in Oxford. Yesterday it meant all the new flags placed on veterans' graves, including that of my dad, were flapping gently. As I gazed out across the cemetery, it made for an impressive sight.

I took a quick tour of the town before I hit the road for home again.

But it's those hundreds of flags I will remember.

Growing up in a small country town is a good thing. Even if you only get back there a few times a year.

And Memorial Day is the perfect day to do it.

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