The town I grew up in; Whitefield, NH, took the Memorial Day parade seriously. The procession; led by the High School Marching Band, wound through the streets of the town, meandering from graveyard-to-graveyard, like a star-spangled snake. Veterans in dress uniforms, carrying guns were followed by Girl Scouts & Boy Scouts proudly waving flags, wearing their mismatched pieces of uniforms, sashes, badges, and pins.
It was a natural transition from celebrating the parade as my own, to being a Brownie (young Girl Scout) dressed smartly in my very own uniform, waving a flag with all its glory. I knew why we marched, I knew about battle and war, and people dying. I had heard stories of war my whole life, I lived in a house where war and it’s toll could not be hidden. I knew my father had lost his eye in war, and I knew he considered himself one of the lucky ones, for he was alive. The war had taken much from him but had it not taken his life. I also thought it somehow made sense being a Medium and the child of a wounded warrior that I should be born so close to a day that honored dead warriors. After all, there are no such things as coincidences.
I remember the importance I felt as I marched in the parade as a child, and I remember thinking how magical it was that we were having a celebration for the dead.
My favorite part of the march was the graveyards…
I loved the way the energy changed when we entered each of the village cemeteries. I loved how the band would change its tone, and separateness settled upon the progression like a veil falling over the face of a widow. Being a Natural Medium, my senses heightened at these times. Graveyards were always busy places, but Memorial Day was special…like Samhain/Halloween it was a day when people came to honor the dead & the dead knew it!
As the band stopped it’s tune, true silence fell over the parade. This was a truly powerful moment of honoring; the fact that we had marched into the graveyard, played our tunes, waved our flags and then stood silent until the sounds of guns firing broke the air. I often shed tears at this moment, ‘the wyrd kid’ crying while the others fidgeted. I could feel the space around me filled with the emotions of the Spirits being honored. I imagined them to have stories similar to those my father told, filled with people they loved and left behind, battles they saw and tragedies that befell them. I was so happy to be part of honoring those who fell to the hands of war.
My father carried this flag in his pack while in Vietnam, it was later draped over him; a shield of honor, as he passed into Spirit in 2012.
I seldom make it to the Memorial Day parade anymore, never having found the connection I had to the hometown festivities I experienced as a child. But I do think deeply on the Fallen each year as my birthday approaches. I know it is important to honor those whose lives were lost to battle and to remember those who came home only to pay War’s Toll through years of P.T.S.D., disabilities and late-life side effects of chemical exposure; my own father amongst them.
My deepest thanks and honors to those who have passed due to their service. Wishes of love & healing to the families who grieve the fallen.