Every Memorial Day we go to the Rhode Island Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery to pay respect to my grandfather, grandmother and all the other veterans that are buried there. It is actually a very impressive sight as you drive through the cemetery. There are flags lining the drive and all of the plots, and it looks like a sea of American flags. It is emotionally overwhelming, as you can imagine. My grandfather was a very proud man as many of his generation are. He was a Naval officer and was stationed in Newport during his service. Those of you who are in the military and may read this will notice the lack of details I have to give you.
I have no excuses for not knowing more. My grandfather lived until he was almost 91 years old. During his last years he suffered from Alzheimer’s and all that accompanies that disease. Before that I was a newlywed and a new mother busy with baby business. I wasn’t thinking that time was running out.
I wish I had taken the time to listen to him tell me about his life and his experiences. There is so much we can learn from our past generations. I know my parents probably have more understanding and knowledge about him, but it would have been great to hear it first hand. As I think about him and my grandmother too, on this Memorial Day, I am deeply grateful for all the sacrifices their generation made. I want to thank them and all the men and women from a generation that cared and listened and did what was right for our future.
I don’t like to give advice, but one thing I feel comfortable saying is that if you have the opportunity to talk and listen to a grandparent or great grandparent, please do it. Write it down too. It is an important piece of your family history that someday you’ll be able to pass along. We can learn from them. We can take their stories and teach from them in hopes that it helps our future generations. I have often heard that understanding our past is the key to shaping our future. As I get older that seems to make more and more sense to me.
So on this Memorial Day try to take some time away from soccer tournaments and baseball games to honor your own family that has passed on, as well as our service men and women that fought and still fight for our future.