When I was a little girl my parents allowed me; more accurately, encouraged me, to believe the Memorial Day parade was in celebration of my birthday. As I got older I knew it wasn't really for my birthday, after all, I marched in the parade every year and noticed how we stopped at every graveyard in town to give gun salutes and hold moments of silence. However, the connection between the two made sense to me, as I had always been aware of spirits, and visiting all the graveyards in town every year near my birthday seemed somehow fitting.
The Pine Street Cemetery (Whitefield, NH) was my favorite. It was old and shaded with rolling hills and a heaviness that welcomed the rest of the dead, it was also filled with active spirits! Entering the graveyard my senses would go on alert and I would find myself tantalized by the energy that pervades it. The other kids often needed a reminder to keep quiet, but not me, I knew from the teachings of my grandmother that cemeteries were sacred places and I understood what that meant. We were there to pay our respects!
Memorial Day is meant to honor those who have fallen in military service, their sacrifice being a necessary loss in the grand plan of our countries freedom. While I may have differences in what I think necessary in the ways of war, I fully believe in honoring those who have fallen doing so. My father was a Vietnam Vet, and his service as a Marine was one of the biggest identifiers of his life. He never stopped being a Marine and he never got over his time at war, seeing it every time he looked in the mirror; his glass eye a reminder of the price he paid. Yet, he always spoke of himself as one of the fortunate ones; the ones who made it home to live a life; hug his loved ones, get married, and have children.
War is waged on the backs of the poor and unfortunate. It is not the millionaire's son or daughter that goes off to fight our countries battles, instead, it is the local youth who wants to make a better life for themselves; drawn in by the idea of a steady paycheck, financing for college, and the opportunity to see the world. Their brains not yet fully developed at 18, many of them have not actually seen or thought of the burden and risk of their choice, instead, they bought into the G.I.JOE glossy advertisements some recruiter handed them. They did not think of the risk of life they are taking or the reality that they may live their entire adult life with some sort of PTSD, and no one in charge ever bothered to talk to them about it either!
The spirits I saw in the graveyards during the Memorial Day salute were not old. They were young, some of them not much more than boys. Seeing them standing there in the shadow and mist I remember thinking how sad it was that they never got to kiss their bride or hold their children. They never got to comfort their worried mother who prayed for them to return home safely or throw the ball for their kid sister. Instead, they got a special marker on their gravestone, a flag placed at their head once a year, a gun salute, and a troupe of antsy kids trying to hold still as a reminder of their service and sacrifice. When I stood quietly watching the spirits receive their honors I realized how much it meant to them, I could see how much they wanted to be remembered for their life story was short, and their death was in many ways what defined them.
As a professional medium, I have a soft spot for dead soldiers. This is partly because my dad was a veteran, and partly because of those early days of visiting them in the graveyard. Regardless of whether someone died at war, or later in life, those who have served always hold the wounds of their service as an identifier of the life they led. My father passed in 2012 at the age of 62 from complications of his mass exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. Now as a spirit he is always quick to identify any veteran who walks through my door (living or dead) as one of 'his'. Recently during a seance for a young soldier who was partially responsible for his own death (accidental overdose), my dad stepped up and offered his aid to help the soldier adapt and heal, giving the living family who mourned him relief in knowing that their beloved dead would have the help of my psychic dad in the afterlife keeping an eye out for them.
While we are having our family gatherings; firing up the BBQ and popping the top on a cold beer, let us take the time to offer up a few thanks and perhaps a toast to those who have made it possible for us to do so. Let us not forget that freedom comes at a price, and many lives have been lost for this land we live in. I have attached a simple candle ceremony that can be performed at home for those of you who want to offer up your thanks to those men and women who sacrificed all.
You will need- A candle, a flag if you have one, a photo, medals or item of memorabilia
*Create an altar in a prominent place where you will see it often using your selected items, decorate it as you like.
*Light your candle and call in the soldier or soldiers you would like to honor, if they are people you know call them by name.
*Spend a few moments in sharing stories or in the silence of your beloved dead who died in battle or due to wounds sustained in battle, if you do not have a personal connection to a fallen warrior, you can give honor to your ancestors who served, friends, community members, or just the fallen soldier as well.
*Keep your altar up as long as you like; just for the day, or until JULY 4th when we celebrate our independence (which was brought to us through the lives of these soldiers).
Make sure to buy a poppy or two from the American Legion folks standing outside the grocery store, and make sure to thank them for their service. It means more to them than you think!
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