Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day 2017

I used to get up early on Memorial Day 
so I'd be one of the first in line for entry to Gypsy Caravan -
a huge flea market in town that has been operating for 45 years. 

Scoring a yearly 'find' after spending hours 
rummaging through other peoples castoffs 
was the order of the day.

Then I had a son who enlisted in the military
and served time in the Middle East
and the solemnity of the day took on new meaning.

shopping and BBQ-ing wasn't that important anymore;
remembering was, 
honoring was;
simply being present to an overwhelming amount of national loss
became the order of the day.
So, for the last several years,
early morning on Memorial Day,
 has found me at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.
It has never failed to move me.
Whoever the first person was to say that 'death is the great equalizer'
must have been visiting a military cemetery at the time. 

Personal characteristics of rank, class, gender and individuality have been obliterated;
the common denominators of military service and death
are all that are left.
I find that reality comforting - 
and disturbing - 
in equal measures.
The Mississippi River rolling along endlessly just down the hill
seems the perfect metaphor for life continuing to go on
despite personal sadness and loss.
To imagine the life and stories associated with each headstone
makes the amount of loss even more staggering.
Simply too many.

This wood sculpture on the lawn of a house right outside the cemetery
seems to sum up some of the current national mood.
But maybe that's just me.

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