Memorial Day Recap::: 2011.

Small town America.
I've said it before. I'll say it again. We LOVE Memorial Day at the Lake.

Breakfast at the local diner in Hickory Corners. Then we wander down the road to meet up with the Talmage and Norris clans.

Jack and Beth fight over Bit O Honey and some other candy that slips my mind. They do trade-offs and I think I've seen them dive and take candy right out of the hands of small babes. The tradition lives on. Beth giving Jack the business.
Jack begging Jackson for candy so that he can swap with Beth OR taunt her with what he knows to be her favorite. I'm not sure which.
The mysterious Shriners always show up. We're not sure what exactly they do but we do love their little cars zipping along the parade.
Flags in all shapes and sizes.
Part of our group...
The firetrucks are so VERY loud and so very numerous. Jackson plugging his ears.
Jack conducting trades.
Every year we get these two pictures. Jackson and Malia ...

And Gavin and Maddie. {Just in case either pair gets married we'll have plenty of pictures ready for the video during the reception. We like to plan ahead.}
I've never seen bigger horses.

And veterans parade by and we cheer extra loudly...

And then there are the WWII vets.
They make me cry. Not a whole lot of them left these days but when we see them, we stand up and clap. And we reach out our hands and thank.
They paid a significant price for our freedom.
{as do all of our military} 

The parade ends at the Hickory Corners cemetery where there's a program that draws a huge crowd.

The guest speaker this year was a decorated Veteran.

His family is loaded with veterans and currently serving military, and I thought what he shared was brilliant, and always something I've struggled with just a bit. I'm going to paraphrase here so what is written below is a loose translation of what he shared, with my wording to it.
He shared how Memorial Day really is a day that is set aside to honor those that have paid {and are paying} the price for the freedoms we have in America. So it is somber. And solemn. And reflective.

He shared the story how years ago he was able to visit the American Cemetery in Normandy, France. It is a moving, powerful place. Jack and I visited there years ago and were moved to tears to see the rows upon rows of white crosses that represented the lives of those that had fought for our freedom. I remember being there like it was yesterday. Jack and I didn't say a word. Nobody did. We separated and wandered. We stooped down and looked into the crosses. I imagined what might have been so long ago. If I had to pick a top 20 memories of my entire lifetime, this would be one of them. Powerful stuff.

This gentleman shared how his group was moved, too. Hard not to be, quite frankly.

And then he shared a powerful picture. They then went down to the actual Normandy Beaches, to see where life had been lost. And there, at the beaches, were families. Kids laughing. Playing in the sand. Building castles. Jumping in the waves. Picnicking. The same waves that decades previously held body after body of those that paid the ultimate price for their countries.

And I love what he said next. He shared that even though the Normandy Beaches pictured life lost at great cost, to see children playing and frolicking was the whole reason people gave their lives. So that we COULD enjoy the freedoms and the simple pleasures like playing on a seashore.

So he challenged the crowd to remember the Veterans but to also enjoy the day, because they fought so we COULD enjoy things such as family and friends and summer picnics {and catching turtles and playing with water guns}

I love these pictures.
Honorable men.
Honorable lives.
Sacrifices made.
Standing tall and proud.
Thank you sirs.
Thank you.


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