Most holidays start with Happy - Think Easter, Thanksgiving, and New Year. So every year, when I hear about the upcoming “holiday” sales in honor of Memorial Day, I cringe. I don’t consider Memorial Day a holiday. Yes, it’s a 3 day weekend. Yes, school is almost over for the year. Yes, it’s even a time to spend with family and friends but it is not a holiday. On Memorial Day I believe we should all honor those that came before us allowing us the freedom we have today.
I will not be visiting graves this weekend as all of my family is buried far away from where I reside. That doesn’t mean I won’t be thinking of the sacrifices of my forefathers and my memories of past Memorial Days.
As a child, my grandmother, Non, always took me with her to tend to the graves of her father and uncle. As a first generation American, she had no fallen soldier graves to care for in this country but I remember the cemetery filled with small flags to honor American veterans. Non was lucky her Sonny, my Uncle George, had made it home safely after serving in the Coast Guard during World War II.
|George and Betty Mione Kos|
As Non and my mother pulled weeds and clipped grass growing around the stones, I would read the inscriptions if I could, because my multicultural neighborhood had many markers engraved in languages other than English. Although I could not read the Polish, Lithuanian, Greek, Italian and like my Great Grandfather’s memorial, Croatian, I knew that the men buried there had shared a common experience in a war. The back of the cemetery held the graves of World War I veterans, the middle section seemed to be for those killed in World War II and in the front, Korean and Vietnam veterans. Too many lives cut short too soon.
I am also fortunate to have my father's diary from World War II while he was stationed in Alaska.
|Orlo Guy Leininger|
His war time experiences were very different from my husband's uncle. With a German surname, my father was not sent to Europe but to the Pacific theatre instead. My dad's sister, Mary Ellen Leininger Tronolone, enlisted as a Yeoman, First Class, in the Navy. Most of her service was in Washington, DC.
|Mary Ellen Leininger Tronolone|
Having known most of these family members I am proud of their bravery and thankful for their service. You can read more memories of soldiers by visiting a Crestleaf blog, Real Letters of Love, Hope & Inspiration Written by Soldiers – A Memorial Day Tribute http://crestleaf.com/blog/real-letters-love-hope-inspiration-written-soldiers-memorial-day/?utm_source=Crestleaf+Members&utm_campaign=033e09e4e4-Blog_Digest_Email_Weekly_2_7_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1915067788-033e09e4e4-95820165