Tomorrow morning we will wake up bright and early and load the lawn chairs into the car. We will wear some combination of red, white and blue. (Well, I will, my husband may leave the patriotic dressing to me.) And we will head off to our town's Memorial Day parade.
This will be the second year we have gone to watch our daughter march in the parade as part of her junior high band. It's the only time they march all year, and it's safe to say that you can tell.
But they try. They try really, really hard.
They are a group full of gangly arms, pants that are a little short due to growth spurts, and instruments held at varying angles.
They sport looks of intense concentration as they try to remember to roll their feet properly as they play the Stars and Stripes Forever portion of the patriotic medley and stay in line with the person next to them while also not running into the person in front of them.
Do you know what's also tough for a tween? Remembering the names of the songs in your patriotic medley.
When I asked my daughter what they were playing, she said she knew the lyrics but not the titles. She knew "And crown thy good with brotherhood / From sea to shining sea!" (Never mind that we've talked about American the Beautiful after a trip up Pike's Peak and that I've written this post about the song "America the Beautiful.")
It can be tough stuff, this marching business, and they make their parents so very proud. (Note: The cringing at the wrong notes is not a matter of pride or lack thereof, but more a reflex.)
Their band directors have the patience of Job. And the sense of humor required to be a good middle school teacher.
I feel very grateful for them, and for her, as well as for our community and for our nation. I feel grateful for the freedom we enjoy as Americans, and for those who have died to ensure that we all have it.
I think of the mothers who have lost their children in service to our country, and how their loss must have brought unimaginable pain.
It may sound cheesy, but I like to think that somewhere in Heaven there are fallen veterans watching parades like these and seeing in the earnest if imperfect displays of patriotism and remembrance that their sacrifices are recognized and appreciated.
As President Harry S. Truman said, "Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices."
I hope that Memorial Day parades help our children understand the importance of remembering.
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