PDT Staff Writer
When I see the sparse crowds at Memorial Day events, I am again reminded that for the last two generations, we have not been taught about honoring those who have gone before us. And I think those generations have missed out on a lot. I really do understand what makes them tick. Why stand out in the sun or rain and watch people parade by when you can be in your air conditioned house watching the computer?
I remember when Memorial Day was a big thing. We were in awe of anyone in uniform, and when Gold Star mothers passed by in cars, and we realized their sacrifice, we were, at once, proud and saddened. I still find it difficult to watch an American flag pass by and not get emotional.
We now teach people that there is nothing special about this place - that it is just a part of the world of nations, all pretty much made up of good and bad, and that a republic is just another form of government, not much different from socialist states and dictatorships.
When I was growing up we were taught that we were a favored nation, built on the principles of freedom, where the pathway to success was not built on government handouts, but on hard work, and yes, even failure. My father worked at the old Detroit Steel Corporation for 48 years. He got up and went to work every day. He taught us to do the same, and I do not, I repeat, do not envy those who have figured out how to circumvent the work ethic. In fact, I feel very sorry for them because they will never experience the satisfaction of earning your living by putting in a long work day, creating your own job security.
Memorial Day is a day to remember our loved ones who have gone on before us too. Memorial Day was special to my mother. Hope Lewis was a mixture of poet and bible scholar, and it was at her knee that I learned things such as reading, writing, grammar, spelling, and all of the other now-obsolete traits. When I didn’t practice perfect grammar I got - “When you say it correctly, I will answer you.” Sounds cruel. It wasn’t. It was a way that made me learn the importance of correct speech and writing. The fact that I teach bible now probably would have made my mother proud. Memorial Day was a time in which we had something special - creme soda floats. They were simple - vanilla ice cream with red Barq’s creme soda poured over it. We drank them in the back yard, after we returned from the parade. If we felt really special, we could put crepe paper in our spokes and ride our bicycles in the parade. It was a big event.
Speaking of mothers, Memorial Day is also a time Joyce and I think about her mother, well, she let me call her my mother as well, Helen Duncan. Mom took me right into the family, and she always treated me as one of her own. She was also very special. I’ll bet the city sanitation workers sure miss the snacks she would put out for them. She would take those little packaged cakes or some such thing, and leave them on her mail box for the guys who picked up her trash. They got to where they knew they could count on them being there every week. Mom was one of these immaculate people who wanted everything done just right. I made the mistake of cutting her grass once. It wasn’t up to her standard so she went behind me and did it the right way. She was organized and wanted everyone around her to be organized as well. She loved and married a man named Mathew Duncan. She loved her house and camping down at the river in the summertime. She, like her daughter and me, and everyone in my family, loved this country.
These are the people we remember every year at this time. They are forever in our hearts, whether they be our mothers or people who gave their lives in defense of our country. Unfortunately, like all other holidays, it has come to just mean a day off work. But Memorial Day is so much more.
I would like to urge you to attend a Memorial Day event in your area. Whether it’s a speech at a cemetery or a parade, it has meaning. We have no direction to our lives without those who went before us. Let’s remember them and keep them in our hearts.
Happy Memorial Day.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.