Memorial Day

Memorial Day was my dad’s favorite holiday.  Not sure why, probably the Indy 500 race was held on the Sunday of the holiday weekend, he loved that race.  We drove up to see it a couple of times, I would go with him to practice sessions and mom would go with him to the race itself.  He was able to get into the pits and speak with many of the owners and drivers.  Dad loved a lot of things that weren’t cool yet so there was access that you just don’t have today.  I remember we would go to America’s Cup races and speak to the crews and captains as they returned from the races at Newport, R.I.  Now there is security everywhere.  I think these memories are why I tell my kids to do what you love, the money will follow. 

Anyway I also enjoy Memorial Day because it brings back so many happy memories.  My dad would put out flags and get the big bbq ready on this weekend.  It also means time to break out the white bucks and seersucker it is officially summertime.  When I was a kid we got out of school before Memorial Day weekend and returned after Labor Day.  It marks the beginning of mowing the yard in earnest at least once a week, the pools open and swimming season begins.  It marks the time you can stay out late, into the dark of night in the neighborhood catching fireflies and talking with your buddies.  It was warm, fresh produce becomes abundant and life gets easy.

Another event around Memorial Day is Pentecost.  This day is precisely seven weeks or 50 days after Easter and begins “ordinary time” for the church.  Pentecost is time that VBS happens, Sunday school is out for the summer and the adjustments to the church calendar happen.  Advent will be the next season to begin.  The days set in the traditional church calendar are Christmas, December 25 and Advent backs up from there four weeks and Epiphany follows the season of Christmas.  And Easter is set on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox and Lent backs up forty days from that event.  So the season of Pentecost is a fluid time frame to equalize from Christmas and Easter. 

So in a way Memorial Day is a marker in our society on many levels, it is the holiday to commemorate the war dead.  Why so many “Eyeball News” teams talk to veterans on this day I don’t know, and then they observe a moment of silence on Veteran’s day.  Hopefully they will figure out one day is for the living and the other for the dead.   We have a neighbor, and friend who lost her son in Afghanistan two years ago.  In fact we know of several families who have lost loved ones in the recent wars.  But I will say this, these young men are truly from the warrior class and they fully  understand the risks they take, but to them it is worth it.  My dad had a huge collection of civil war memoirs and the acceptance of death is remarkable.  Their faith was strong that their cause was just and they are certain of their place in heaven.  I think a lot of the young men today also feel that way.  Death comes to today’s heroes in the form of roadside bombs and not cannon volleys or fusillade of rifle fire from only a few hundred yards away. 

Well I ramble, as the smell of charcoal from around the neighborhood makes me remember that these are special times indeed.  And we need to treasure special times, even if it occurs during “ordinary time.”

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2 responses to “Memorial Day

  1. Max

    Ty. Never knew you were in Newport for the Americas Cup races. Which years? any of the Australian Challenges? I grew up listening to our usually ill fated efforts every 4 years to break the longest winning streak in Sport. My brother was a rabid sailor of 12 and 16 ft skiffs on Botany Bay in Sydney. In the early 60s he did reasonably well in the State Championships and made the 2500 mile trip to Perth to compete in the Australian VeeJay championships. He was beaten by an aggressive young sailor from Melbourne named John Bertrand. In 1982 Bertrand and a brilliant young Aussie crew finally broke that winning streek at Newport. Australia came to a standstill. I drove to work that morning down empty streets. The whole country had been up all night watching the final best of 7 races. The party lasted a week. Bertrand’s book “Born to win” is an excellent read. Classic case of the underdog succeeding through determination. Like building a Pergolah. Takes a Village….

    • It was the early seventies and late sixties. I found my “Ficker is quicker” button the other day. I remember going into the resteraunts where the Aussie crews were and eavesdropping on their tales as the recounted the race. We would rent the basement of one of the home on the point and watch the boats sail out of Newport and then we would go to the docks to await their return.

      I too lost in the BSA region finals and so did not qualify to go to nationals. We sailed Flying Dutchman scows, about 15′ boats. Those were the days! Thanks for the comment.

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