Memorial Day Musings

For the most part, we associate Memorial Day with a long weekend, spending time with friends and family, and especially in our neck of the woods, enjoying the turn in weather it represents to the warmth and sunshine of the arriving summer. However, amidst the having fun and making memories, it’s good to pause and appreciate what the day truly means for all of us.

In the slower spring months, I’ve had the privilege of going through a long-forgotten truck that belonged to my Grandpa.   I’ve discovered all sorts of treasures that connect me with my Keen ancestry.  While I knew that my great, great grandfather and great, great uncle wore the blue in the Civil War, it was still exciting to find images of Captain Mathias Keen and Warren Rix.  Of course, I knew that Captain Mathias’s great grandson, my Grandpa Neil (James Neil Keen) had served in the navy during the Great War, I didn’t countenance what a great sacrifice this amazing grandfather of mine had made until I unearthed letters home to his mother and father and his “Sissy,” my Great Aunt Edith.  While I know he was at the “front” during World War I, I don’t have any idea where he was stationed.  I do know his letters home were filled with love for his family and yearning to be by their sides when opportunity next provided.   Much of his correspondence was given up to stories of camaraderie with fellow brothers-in-arm.

My Dad continued the family tradition of service to country and was stationed in US Occupied Japan during the Korean conflict.  My father didn’t speak of this time of his life, at least to us, his children.  His time overseas showed up in dinners such as Sukiyaki or a visit from a lovely Japanese woman who created origami swans that delighted us.  His stories of service were stories about the man with home he served.

And now two of my beloved nephews, both sons of a proud Marine, are serving—one in the Navy, the other in the Air Force.  They have collectively served in South Korea, Bahrain, and both have been assigned to areas where they cannot tell us where they are as a matter of national security.  They, too, have been separated from their loved ones for significant periods of time—a theme which runs through all of my families’ military experiences.  Yet they also speak of the new family of brothers they have gleaned through their service.

During the next two weekends at Keen Lake, we will have the privilege of honoring my family members as well as those of countless men and women who have served their country.  On Armed Forces Day, we will tip our hats and cover our hearts as we pledge our allegiance to our great country and thank my nephews, Michael and Matthew who presently serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. The Simpson VFW 4712, Walter Paciga Post will be here on Saturday, May 18 to commemorate Armed Forces Day.  (Click link for Full Activity Schedule)

On Memorial Day, my family will honor Warren Rix, who died in the Civil War as well as all of our brave men and women who have not returned to our shores or their families having fallen on the battlefield.

The “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed in December 2000. It asks that at 3 p.m. local time, all Americans “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence” as a way to help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day.  Keen Lake will observe this moment of silence throughout the park on Monday, May 26 at 3 p.m.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *