posted by Amy
For the past several days, Henry and Josie have been making grand plans for Memorial Day. To hear them talking, you'd think this day of remembrance for those who died for our country was second only to Christmas. They planned an evening picnic for us last night, hounded Chip to get the flag up this morning, and are ecstatic that we're going to a friend's to barbecue and swim later this afternoon. Henry even wants to go decorate his great-grandfather's grave today. As our family has a disappointing, to him, lack of relatives who died in the line of duty, he figures a World War II veteran is the next best thing, I gather.
We don't know the exact source of their excited anticipation of this day marked by parades and barbecues, but I have to admit it's made me stop and think a bit more about what this day means. As the daughter of a Vietnam veteran, one who thankfully lived to come home and meet his baby daughter, I'm mindful of the sacrifices the men and women of our military make for the country. Some give their lives; others live with lasting physical and emotional markers of their service. Many of us have fathers who served in the military, and more and more children have mothers in the armed forces. I've learned from my dad's experiences to respect those who serve our country even when I disagree with the wars they're fighting in.
My kids have a romantic patriotism that I'm kind of enjoying right now. Their view of the United States is not an unquestioning one, however. Henry's already horrified by his discovery of the country's history of slavery and racism, and Josie surprised me by knowing who Rosa Parks was just the other day. But when we delve together into questions about how our country was founded and what it stands for, I remember what it felt like to be eight and moved to tears by the neighborhood 4th of July parade.