Sunday, May 29, 2011
Happy Decoration Day
Sooooo, where was I????? I've been missing in action for a while. Sorry about that folks. I'll try harder to write more often. I promise.
As we fire up the grills this Memorial Day weekend, several thoughts are spinning in my head. As usual!
First up, to the men and woman, many of whom were kids, who gave their lives so that assholes like me can enjoy the freedoms to bitch about stupid things on this here blog, I am eternally grateful.
Memorial Day, or as my mother called it, Decoration Day
brings out a whole gamut of memories.
One of my most cherished memories as a kid is going to the cemetery with my grandmother, aunt and mother to "decorate" the graves. In later years, my parents took my kids with them. If I had to miss for some reason, my mother would call and tell me the daily total of graves that they "did." She would go on and on about how tired she was. And in later years, about how thankful she was that my kids were there to help.
I laugh because Harriet was much better at delegating than doing. I can't believe some CEO didn't pick up on that during her life and nab her to head their production lines. I can hear her now. Come on Bud, just do it now. 1,2,3. Boom, boom, boom. And it will be done. Silence for about 20 seconds. Let's go. Come on. Here, this shovel is all ready for you. She would drive you crazy, until you just did it. No matter how tired or busy you were. You just did it. And she would sit there and tell you exactly how to do it. Herself, never breaking a sweat.
Anyway, I am getting off subject. Yesterday, I grudgingly continued that tradition and made the cemetery runs. Decorating graves of relatives that were dead long before I was born.
One of those is my mothers brother who died in 1945. He is buried way back in the corner by the wall in St. Mary's Cemetery in Lawrenceville. When I made my way back to his and his wife's graves yesterday, I read his gravestone. He was discharged from the service on May 28, 1945. 46 years to the day. Strange coincidence.
His grave was decorated only with the flag that the cemetery staff puts on all the veterans graves.
George Jenkins enlisted in 1939. He left Pearl Harbor three days before it was attacked by Japan. My mother used to say that my Gram was so relieved when she heard he missed the attack.
As a kid, I remember going through my Gram's cedar chest and reading his letters home. Most information was blacked out with magic marker. I distinctly remember that. I also remember hearing stories of the various battle's he was involved in. I wish I would have paid better attention.
One of the items in that cedar chest was a huge Japanese flag. My cousin Jeff and I would look at it all the time. It scared the hell out of me because it had blood and bullet holes all over it.
My grandmother said she would tease him and tell him that she was going to wash it for him. And he would reply "Mom, if you only knew what I went through to get that flag."
I wish I had the opportunity to ask him. After he survived the war, he returned to Lawrenceville. Got married, bought a house. And died.
After surviving the war, him and his young wife died of carbon monoxide poisoning in the home they purchased as newlyweds. He was home from the war for only 6 months. My mother said my gram was never the same after that.
The least I can do is put a few geraniums and petunia's on him and his wife's grave to thank him for spending the last four years of his life fighting for my freedom.
Geeze, I need to quit complaining.
*When I was in 4th or 5th grade, I took that flag to school for show and tell. We think my teacher never gave it back, because no one saw it after that. That flag would be worth a small fortune today.