Monday, May 26, 2008

To Remember

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

I have always loved Memorial Day. Especially during high school. For four years that meant marching in the town parade. My freshman year I played piccolo. Sophomore through Senior years it was as drum major. I loved marching in front of the band, calling or whistling orders, and conducting the music.

The parades always ended in cemeteries where a trumpet player from the marching band would play Taps in honor of those from the US military who have died in war.

I have something to admit that I'm not proud of.

I have no memories of the cemeteries. Of hearing Taps. Of ensuring that our high school band was a respectful presence for such a solemn occasion.

I partly blame the general folly and silliness of youth. But I was also young during a relatively peaceful time. While I grew up under the cloud of nuclear armament and USSR as the constant enemy to be kept in check, I don't recall knowing a single person my age who joined the military. The horrific consequences of war were in the flat photos in out-of-date textbooks or in the hunched shoulders of old men leaning on canes standing next to graves with flags. They weren't in real people I knew.

Now I have children who have only been alive during war. I see young adults who should be starting their lives instead begging outside the homeless veterans shelter. My friend's godson died in Iraq when he had been there barely a month.

So really the only song I can play this week is Taps. Because I can't remember hearing it when I stood in the cemetery. And I need to remember it now.

Share a song, even if it isn't related to Memorial Day.


Jen of A2eatwrite said...

We're certainly in a very sad period these days.

Lilacspecs said...

Ah, common mistake. There's Waltzing Matilda which is an Australian folk type song about a bum of sorts who travels the Australian bush with his napsack which he nicknames Matilda. Then there's the song I posted: And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda , which was written in the 1970's as a juxtaposition of the battle of Gallipoli with the Vietnam War. So no worries, the actual Waltzing Matilda is cute and catchy and silly, not a war song.

Mariposa said...

I'm with you on this day...though we do't celebrate Memorial Day, we have a similar occassion...and regardless of locationa and race, we should always remember and be grateful to all men in the service...most especially those who shared their lives for our countries in many ways...

Meg said...

OK. I'm sad now. Must visit the cemetery with kids.

Hilary said...

Ahh, memorial Day. It always makes me think of my father. He was a career Naval man, and was in a few wars, including World War II. I used to call him or see him every Memorial Day, and we would have a rueful conversation about how to wish someone a "Happy Memorial Day" when it was hardly a happy holiday.

He died in his eighties with his family nearby, like every soldier should.

painted maypole said...

i do remember hearing this as a child, but it is so much more resonant now.

Ambassador said...

A - I marched all those parades too, but our band director had laid out in some very personal terms the solemnity of the occasiona and the expectation of our behavior during our times in the cemetaries. It was also a huge honor to be picked as the trumpeter from our band to play Taps, as our tradition was for one of our local veterans to play it while the student stood quite some distance off and played the echo.

I have goosebumps all over (and my eyes are getting moist) just recalling it.

Also, it was the time of year when the lilacs and lily of the valley were in full bloom on our farm - we would pick truckloads (or so it seemed) to bring to all the cemeteries. I will always associate the smell of fresh lilacs with Memorial Day.

Love you - K

Jenn in Holland said...

What a gorgeous post SMID. I have often thought about that whole notion of being a child of peacetime. It was all so far removed from my existence, until recently of course.
When my grandfather passed away 5 years ago, he was given honors as a war veteran and it was a very moving part of his service.
I miss him on memorial day, and every day.