Memorial Day thoughts

Discussion in 'TM Lounge' started by Manny Laureano, May 30, 2005.

  1. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004
    Hi, everyone.

    I've just returned from doing something I've never done before. If you can velieve it, I'm ashamed to admit to you that I've never been to a memorial Day service until today. I can only blame myself for not having done so, I won't blame society for not instilling the motivation, blah, blah, blah. It was thoughtlessness, I think, pure and simple.

    Well, I took care of that today and took my 2 children, 14 and 10, boy and girl, to a service at Jewish cemetery for Jewish Minnesotans that have died this past year. It started with the raising of the flag to the tune the corresponding bugle call. We sang the National Anthem and were welcomed by the head of the cemetery.

    A speech in memoriam was given by a Ukranian Colonel from the Russian Army, an 80 year-old veteran who fought with the Americans after his house was bombed and destroyed by the Nazis. The speech was entirely in Russian and as you looked around at the people gathered and heard the occasional conversation you realized you were surrounded by many, many Jews who had found their way to this country to escape the oppression they faced in the Soviet Union long ago.

    This colonel was, ironically, an acclaimed scientist whose main work was in radar technology which means, for all intents and purposes, he was once the cold war "enemy". In 1996 he left Russia for the States and is now a proud American citizen. In his speech, I learned later, he spoke about the war against the anti-semitic fascists and how Jews must continue the fight against fundamentalist terrorists that would destroy Jewry all over the world. He honored a young Russian Jew who emigrated here and died two years ago in Afghanistan fighting the terrorists who was buried in that cemetery.

    The ceremony ended with some stirring canted prayer by a female cantor but I don't remember which temple she's with. It was truly kismet that I happened to choose this particular Jewish cemetery. You see, my wife and children are Jewish but I'm Catholic. I remember that there was a Jewish cemetery that was the target of vandalism last year. Over 150 gravestones were toppled or defaced. I was standing in that very cemetery. The past year has been spent rebuilding the headstones and restoring calm beauty to this site. I wouldn't have known that anything had happened earlier had it not been mentioned by the administrator of the Cemetery, they did such a great job.

    My children, especially my daughter, were very taken by the brief ceremony. We talked a lot about it afterwards and the meaning of the day. We promised that every subsequent Memorial day will have greater meaning and value to our lives.

    To those of you that have lost loved ones that served, you have borne a great burden that I hope will be eased and lifted ever so slightly by the profound respect that I have for your loss. I pray that we never become so callous as to completely take for granted the ultimate sacrifice paid by those that would keep my loved ones safe. May their ascent to heaven buoy our spirits.

  2. Solar Bell

    Solar Bell Moderator Staff Member

    May 11, 2005
    Metro Detroit
    Thanks for the great story.

  3. FreshBrewed

    FreshBrewed Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 11, 2003
    Houston, TX
    Great story Manny. We played in Saint Avold, France this weekend and I was able to speak to a woman who's father was buried there. She traveled all the way from the states just for the ceremony and to get a charcoal rubbing of her father's tombstone. She thanked me for my service and I thanked her for her father's sacrifice. We were only able to speak for a few minutes but it was really something to speak to someone who had such conviction to travel so far for something most would consider insignificant these days.
  4. KJaeger

    KJaeger Pianissimo User

    Oct 27, 2004
    Colorado Springs, CO
    On Monday our community band had the honor of playing for the Memorial Day observances at the Presidio in San Francisco. Normally, the 91st Division Band (a reserve unit) performs, but they had a concert elsewhere and could not participate. Several of our band members are friends or colleagues of members of that band I believe, so we were lucky enough to get the call to fill in.

    For those who have not been to the Presidio, it is the old army base between the Golden Gate Bridge and the city of San Francisco proper. The National Cemetary there is not as big as as Arlington, for example, but I can't imagine a more beautiful setting - set among groves of cypress and with a panoramic view of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate.

    The weather was absolutely pristine - clear skies and sunshine reflecting off the waters of the Bay. The most stirring moment of the service for us was getting to play a setting of "Amazing Grace" with two pipers from the 91st Division - followed by a 21-gun salute and the playing of Taps by a bugler from the 91st. Finally, a Blackhawk helicopter flew slowly and gracefully over the cemetary.

    Several of the veterans stayed to listen after the service and we played a few extra marches for them ("VFW March" and "American Legion March" - we had to make sure we had both organizations covered!). As we were leaving, so many of them said "thank you" to us for participating - but to us, having the honor and privilege of playing for them was our way of saying "thank you" to them, and to their comrades who never made it home.

    God Bless You to all our men and women in uniform - past, present and future, and thank you...
  5. B15M

    B15M Forte User

    Dec 30, 2003
    Monroe Ct.
    I played for a parade and a ceremony and a concert.

    After the parade a couple of us were talking about if we would do all this for free.

    I have in the past. I suppose that I would again if asked.
    Last year at the ceremony the guest speaker started talking about how we don't understand Arrack and how we should not be there. People kept quiet for the most part but we were all pretty mad. This year The guest speaker was much better.

    There were speakers from all around the military with a lot of interesting things to say.

    All in all a very long day, but a good one.

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