Memorial Day used to be, “just a break from school day,” when I was a kid. Oh, I was a drummer in my elementary schools marching band, in Dix Hills, Long Island, NY. We marched by the Dix Hills fire department’s station house and people gathered for the parade. It was nice. I got to beat up a snare drum and my parents were proud. My parents sent me a Koda-Chrome shot of me from that one parade. But, I was just a kid. I don’t remember being overtly emotional about the day.
I helped cover wars while working for Mutual News, NBC Radio News and the Source in the 1990s. “Wikipedia-it,” friends. Once upon the time, in the 20th Century, there were three network newscasts produced out of one incredibly talented newsroom, in Arlington, VA. (Just across the Potomac from DC–and adjacent to Reagan National Airport.) One of my more memorable interviews that I did for those newscasters, prior to the start of Desert Storm-aka-the First Iraq War, was with the late Dr. Joyce Brothers. I made her cry. I didn’t mean to. But, I shared that this was the first war a generation was going to experience, and how as a kid, I lived in the Vietnam War era, and post Vietnam Era. But, for the most part, our country didn’t call up its volunteer troops and get them overseas to fight another country’s army, for at least a decade. I actually shared my own fear of this war with Dr. Brothers, one of the most well known psychiatrists in the world. I didn’t know what this war was going to do to my country. I was afraid to find out. Well, Dr. Brothers gave some good advice about parents talking to kids and each other. And, since this was around the Christmas shopping time, a time when New York City is at it’s loveliest, we got to talking about my missing the greater New York area. It was then that Dr. Brothers choked up. You see, a few months earlier, her husband had died. And, he would take her into Manhattan, from their New Jersey home, and they would shop. But, they didn’t buy much. It was the joy of just strolling through New York and looking through the windows. Total strangers could enjoy that common activity. It was warm and fuzzy. Dr. Brothers missed her companion. She was sentimental. I was sentimental.
Perhaps, this was what we reached for in a pre-9/11/2001 world, as Americans, the common emotions that we shared around the winter holidays, that made us more understanding and patient with one another. It’s amazing what war, and what appears to be a steady increase in natural disasters, does to a country. We now live in a world and a country, where we need each other more to get over some pretty tough times. So, on this Memorial Day weekend, today, when my first thoughts were this morning, to get out and get more flowers and vegetable plants for my garden, I now sit and write this blog, on behalf of Patriot-Made Audiocast.
It’s 2013. I’ve watched my peers become parents, and grandparents, and I confess to having maternal feelings toward those who are younger than me. I am so touched by every death notice that I read, or see on the web, of the soldiers, sailors and airmen and women who perished on duty. Now Memorial Day weekends have a much deeper meaning. Oh, I still want my parents to be proud of me. Some things will never change. But, even though I don’t have kids of my own, I am proud of all the kids who have “got my back,” whether I realize it or not. I don’t ever want to take them for granted. We need to remember all of them. We need to take care of one another.
Rita Rich reporting.