If you want to experience a true slice of Americana, there are numerous things you can do. Among my personal favorites are go to a drive-in on a warm summer night, work in a truck stop (I think everyone should have to do this at some point in their lives) and go to a county fair. You can also go to a Memorial Day gathering.
Yesterday Larry and I attended the Memorial Day service here in Schroon Lake. Our town erected a lovely memorial wall a few years ago. It serves as a somber reminder and respectful dedication to those residents who have served their country.
It was a scene played out this weekend across the country, in towns large and small. The color guard, the gun salute, the playing of taps. But being in a small town, where you know so many people, gives it a special kind of intimacy.
A local bed and breakfast owner, who also hosts open mic nights at Witherbees, provided the sound system and stood at attention in his Ray Bans. A handsome young man in his uniform, who was part of the color guard, cringed and muttered to himself when he made a slight wrong turn with his flag during the ceremony. I heard a splash down by the waterfront and saw a dog swimming after a stick tossed in the lake. I looked at the backs of the Boy and Cub Scouts standing at attention, some of them sons of friends of ours. I watched my elderly veteran neighbor (who once told me, in all innocence, that her cat was named Obama because "he’s black and white, you know") shuffle assisted to the edge of the memorial to lay the wreath at its base. A young boy with a fishing pole walked down the sidewalk towards the docks. I recognized most of the people who spoke at the podium and enjoyed those who, as Larry observed, "weren’t afraid to not be P.C." I saw lots of folks I recognized from the law office - people who I’ve assisted with wills and deed transfers and various matters, all items entrusted to me by the office’s ethics of confidentiality.
Communities like these are the backbone of this country. They care enough to support each other. They take part in ceremony for the things that are important to them.
After the conclusion and thank-yous for attending, the slightly somber mood was immediately lifted by the noise and bustle of kids cut loose and running in the grass, smiling faces and handshakes among friends, ice cream cravers heading over to Stewarts.
This is all part of what Memorial Day means. Time passes. In addition to those no longer with us, remember this simple, good stuff. It’s what lives are made up of.