Pete's random thoughts

Monday, May 30, 2011

9 y/o Caleigh "got" Memorial Day for the first time today

Today we went to town to march in two parades with 4H. She has been doing this for a few years, but this year was really special.

She had been writing pen-pal emails to a guy from RI we met last year at a WW2 event at a museum in MA. He was a friendly, gentle old man, a fighter pilot during WW2. She recently wrote him an email and it bounced, so I looked into his whereabouts only to find that he had died a couple of months ago. She was pretty sad because this wasn't just a hero she read about in a book, this was a real live person she had met and talked with. I told her to keep him in mind this weekend at Memorial Day exercises.

We marched in the first parade in the north part of town to the little cemetery on the hill. There was a police car, the VFW color guard, the 4H kids, and the school band, along with a fire truck and ambulance. At the cemetery, there were prayers for the dead, speeches by the ROTC kids, and a firing squad salute, followed by Taps.

At the end of the ceremony she came running up to me with tears in her eyes and told me "Daddy, that song with the bugles made me cry". On the way home we talked about the symbolism of Taps, and about her pilot friend.

We were expecting guests to arrive at any minute, and were not planning on going to the town's other little parade since her 4H group wasn't scheduled to be in it, but she insisted with tears in her eyes and I could tell that this was really important to her.

We got back to town in time for her to find a different 4H group she could fall in with to march to the monument in the center of town. The same school bands played the same songs, and the same color guard fired a salute, but through the whole thing she remained attentive and listened to every word in the speeches and prayers.

I don't think I have ever been prouder of her than I was today. She really got what Memorial Day is about. In the past it was fun for her to be in the parade because you get to march and carry a flag, but for the first time, she understood what the parades & ceremonies really meant.