Lets face it, for many of us, Memorial Day isn't really about Memorials. It's about barbecues, swimming, and welcoming in the summer season. I'm no exception to this. Although I try to spend a little bit of time during the day reflecting on the sacrifices of our troops, I don't really do as much as I could.
This Memorial Day is a bit different for me. It is the first one without my Grandpa. He passed away from complications of cancer last month. I flew to Montana to attend his funeral and to be with my family. My Grandpa was many things to many people, but he took pride in his service in the Army during WWII. If you'd like to read more about his life, you can read his
The active Military part of his life was long over by the time I came along. I remember him best in his boat. When we would come to visit, he'd take us fishing. We'd get up at the crack of dawn and My sisters and I would climb into my Grandpa's old truck, smashed in the middle between my Grandpa and my Dad. My Grandpa always brought his thermos of coffee, and we'd stop at the gas station for juice and Oreo Cookies to take with us before heading on to the lake.
We would pull up to the dock and my sisters and I would wait, for what seemed like an eternity for my Dad and Grandpa to unhitch the boat from the back of the truck and get it into the water. Then we'd all climb aboard and watch the shoreline recede as my Grandpa drove us out into the middle of the lake.
One of my favorite memories of my Grandpa was the time he let me drive his boat. I remember my hand on the wheel, and my Grandpa standing over me, giving me direction. It was one of the only times I've ever gotten to drive. We didn't catch fish every time, but we always had fun.
It was hard for me to communicate with my family at some of the big dinners before the funeral. My Dad got me an interpreter for the service, for which I'm very thankful.
After the service, we drove to the Fort Harrison Cemetery where my Grandpa was buried with Military Honors.
The grass was brown, and it seemed to stretch on forever. The Montana big sky was cloudy and gray. The wind blew, and it really struck me-- when we left, we would be leaving him here, in this barren wintry place. He would not be waiting at his house, he would not be waiting around the next corner, or through another door. He was gone.
After the guns finished firing, the bugler played Taps. It is a very simple song, one most people probably don't appreciate much. But as I stood there, in the cold of our communal loss, I heard the bugle call across the lonely Montana land. I heard him play the song. And the lyrics sprung to my mind.
Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.
Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near
Falls the night.
Thanks and praise for our days
Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky
As we go, this we know
God is nigh.
--Horace Lorenzo Trim