Painting done after the Civil War
Memorial Day began in various places in the U.S. following the Civil War to commemorate the fallen of that war. Since that time it has widened to include all war dead, and then to all veterans. After that, it has seemed to include all those who we have lost in our lives. Before she died a couple years ago my cousin Jan told me she made a day-long trip before Memorial Day weekend to all of the Blythe ancestral cemeteries in the state to place flowers on family member graves. I sure hope someone has placed a flower on her's this year. Her mother, my aunt Gladys, used to do it, then they did it together when Gladys became too frail to do it herself. Now there is no one left, I suppose. Some have a problem with Memorial Day now the official day to honor soldiers who died in battle as well as an all-inclusive day to remember everyone passed away. I'm not sure it dilutes our respect for fallen soldiers all that much, but I see the argument.
I'm an unapologetic thief today. I thought last year's guest commentary (did I steal that one, too?) was so exceptional I decided to repost it for today. So, thanks, Jeff, for telling us all how to appreciate this day and those we love.
So to those who are no longer with us, and to those who served to help preserve our freedoms, this weekend is a time for us to pause and remember.
Yesterday Carol and I went to Knoxville Cemetery to place flowers on the graves of her father and a very dear friend of mine. Gerald Dugan Strom died in 1996 of a massive heart attack. It was an appropriate way for him to go if there is such a thing. He did everything in a massive way. He worked with those we called at the time "mentally retarded"I know the term has fallen out of favor. Dugan didn't care what you called his clients, he cared about how they were treated. He was their tireless advocate. He loved them and respected them and they loved him back. Dugan and I spent two years riding in a car together from Galesburg to Macomb as commuter students attending Western Illinois University and graduated together in 1976. We took our own career paths but always stayed in touch. He moved to Glen Falls, New York in 1996 to be the CEO of a large residential program for developmentally disadvantaged adults. Sounded more politically correct didn't it? Our oldest son Jeremy was going to attend college in Providence, Rhode Island and Dugan asked us to stop by on the way. It was several hours out of the way and during the drive I wondered more than once if we should just skip it and head to Jeremy's school. We made that side trip in early September and I got to see my friend's new office, meet some of his staff and hear all the things he wanted to update and change. In early November he was dead. I'd come so close to not making that trip a few hours out of my way to see him. It taught me one valuable life lesson. If you love someone, tell them. If they are your friend and they need help, do what needs to be done. Don't think you will see them or talk to them later, it may not happen. We try to do as much as we can for our children and grandchildren. Why hoard money now so they can have it when we die? Why not share it with them now so we can enjoy it with them? Live in the moment and embrace whatever it gives you. Be the friend, neighbor, lover that you would want them to be toward you. Dugan's death could have made me bitter. I could have spent all these years complaining how unfair it was. His death changed my life. He made me a better person, a better man, gave me a push to live now, love now, be kind now.
Jeff Sutor - Author Bodine-DILLIGAF
Reprinted from May 28, 2012 - Existing In BFE
I'd like to take a moment and thank the people in my life who have sacrificed.
Glen Blythe, Jason Blythe, Brendan Blythe, Drew Shepherd, Tim Stage, Marvin Thirtyacre, Daryl Mitchell, Randy Mitchell, Ron Harn, Dave Hipkins, Dave Meece, Ed Johnson.