Heroes Honoured in Small Town America

I'm a conflicted soul.
You see, I love urban life. Bring on Chicago and the noise and architecture and cement {in moderation} and art and museums and unique food and all it has to offer.
And then, I love nature and all that the great outdoors has to offer ... you can take the girl out of Northern Ontario, but you absolutely can not take the Northern Ontario out of the girl. Nothing moves me more than connecting with God in His nature. Wherever that may be.
And then, somewhere in between is this place called Small Town America. And I love it. Especially on holidays like Memorial Day. Perhaps it's the 'tradition' of it all. The consistency. The sentimentality. Perhaps it's the friendliness shared. Or the memories built upon each other, year after year.

As has been the case for as far back as Jack can remember, and for me, since joining his family, we love being at the Lake for Memorial Day. It kicks off the summer season, and this year we brought summer in with a bang. The weather was perfect every single day. We bbq'd. We did Frona's. We did family. We did boats. We did the sand box ... and perhaps the most significant 2 hour stretch was when we went to the local {and I do mean LOCAL} Memorial Day Parade and Celebration.

I've included a lot of photographs in this post, mostly for Maddie and Jackson to look back on in years to come, to be reminded of our Memorial Day tradition. I included those shots that happen year after year ... the anticipation of what is next ... the horses and wagons and floats and fancy cars ... and our personal favorite, the ceremony in the cemetery after the last "float" has paraded by.

{Oh, and Maddie, just so you know, you are in this little funk the last few months where you do not want your picture to be taken. So for the record, I attempt to take tonnes of photos of you too, but you're just not letting me. So there will be NO saying that I took more pictures of Jackson in the years to come! I tried. I'm hopeful that this stage will pass and you will SOON let me capture you doing those little things in life!}

{Half the fun of the parade is the anticipation of what's coming next, sneaking out just a little bit further, to look down the parade route.}

{Waving.}

{Bikes and flags}

{CANDY!!!!!!}

{Getting ready for the fire trucks.}


{The noise is a little bit easier to take in the protective arms of daddy.}

{Cover those ears!}

{American Flags.}


{Celebrating with our "Lake" friends. Malia and Jackson have quite a little friendship going.}

{Thankfully there's no clown phobia in our family.}

{I tried, Maddie. I tried.}

{And no parade is complete without the "little cars."}

{Picking up candy. And more candy. And then listening to Daddy try to convince you that you don't like that candy so that he can eat it!}

{And horses and wagons.}

{And fancy cars.}


{And then, what Memorial Day is all about. Honouring our veterans. The flag is flown at half-mast. The fighter jet flies overhead. The local pastor gives a little talk and prays in Jesus' name. How's that for small town America? I can tell you that ain't happening in Chicago.}

And this next picture moves me to tears every year. The local VA Hospital brings in a busload of veterans, a lot of which are Vietnam Vets. As they roll by we vigorously wave and yell "thank you" and smile and try our best to treat them with the greatest, greatest respect. Because they deserve it.

And here's the thing, when they returned to America after the Vietnam War, they were spit on and ridiculed and treated awfully -- which makes me LIVID -- but to see them being honoured is unbelievably moving. Each year Jack and has dad set the example by making a point to go up to them and other veterans, shaking their hands, and thanking them for serving and sacrificing for our country. More often than not, they tear up and look away and don't really know how to respond for being thanked for their sacrifice. They, my friends, are TRUE heroes.

This particular year, as we walked back to the car, Maddie asked why we made such a big deal about waving to the bus and thanking the people on the bus. Mine was the privilege of sharing with her the story of how they were initially treated and how we would do our best to go out of our way to show them our respect. As I explained how badly they were treated she was baffled. "Why would people be so mean and unkind? They were helping our country." I just simply said, "I don't know why people would be so mean, Maddie. I don't understand and never will, but we can't change the past but we can do something about today and the future." In a cheery voice she said, "Yep," and the conversation ended.

The ceremony started with the crowd singing the National Anthem and this man caught my eye. Apparently, until recently, there was a law that said only current military can salute the flag. But this year, that law was changed and now any former military may also salute the flag.}

Thank you, Mr. Hero, for serving your country so that my little family, in 2009, can remain free and safe. What a sacrifice he and so many others have made.

And HE is why I love Memorial Day.

And Jodie, if you're reading this, thank you, too.You remain our family's personal hero.

Comments

Amber said…
Thank you for your thoughtful comments about Memorial Day. I am right there with you (of the same mind, yet again!). My brother is an Iraq war veteran, my dad is a Vietnam veteran, and my family has had a veteran in almost every conflict back to the Civil War. Too many people forget what the holiday is really about. Thanks!!

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