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We Will Remember Them May 25, 2020

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Uncategorized.
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“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

 

– from “Ode of Remembrance” taken from “For the Fallen” by Laurence Binyon

 

Memorial Day, the last Monday in May. It didn’t start that way. Going back as far as the 1800’s, people in the South had regular communion with the dead. On birthdays, as well as wedding and death anniversaries, people would have picnics in cemeteries and lay flowers on the graves of their dearly departed. It is something that some still do. In fact, visiting family graves was a regular part of my childhood and something I still do when I am in Texas. I think nothing of benches sitting under the trees in the middle of a cemetery. If you didn’t bring a blanket or weren’t sure your creaky bones would get you up again, where else would you sit to remember the dead?

In the 1860’s women in the South were observed decorating the graves of soldiers who were lost during Civil War battles. Some people associated Decoration Days with the Confederacy, but the truth is that families in the South had relatives fighting for both the Union and the Confederacy and, thus, lost both. Still, the perception in the North was that “Decoration Day” was a Confederate thing, so people started referring to Memorial Day as a time when soldiers of all wars would be remembered. The rituals were pretty much the same. Not necessarily the picnics, but the decorating and a moment when people collectively stepped away from the hustle and bustle of regular life in order to remember those who lost their lives, ostensibly so that we could all go about the hustle and bustle of regular life.

Various states and towns have laid claim to being the birthplace of “Memorial Day;” however, in 1966, President Lyndon Johnson officially named Waterloo, NY as the birthplace of Memorial Day. For decades, Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30th. Then, in 1968, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act moved four federal holidays to specific Mondays, thereby changing Memorial Day to the last Monday of May. The change in date established a long weekend that marked the beginning of summer, an opportunity for retail sales, and the end to Memorial Day being a very personal holiday for many Americans.

“…in our effort to accommodate many Americans by making the last Monday in May, Memorial Day, we have lost sight of the significance of this day to our nation. Instead of using Memorial Day as a time to honor and reflect on the sacrifices made by Americans in combat, many Americans use the day as a celebration of the beginning of summer.”

 

– Veteran and Hawaii Representative Daniel Inouye

Some Veterans have stated that people saying, “Thank you for your service” has become a throwaway line with very little meaning. I still say it, but not on Memorial Day, because (as many Veterans will tell you) while Memorial Day has lost its meaning for many of the general population it is still very meaningful for people who have lost someone during their service. It is still a day to remember family and friends, comrades and colleagues, brothers and sisters in arms. It is still a day people to remember how someone died, but – most important – how someone lived.

“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”

 

– Ralph Waldo Emerson (b. 05/25/1803)

 

“Compassion. Respect. Common Sense.”

 

– Retired Marine Staff Sergeant Time Chambers (a.k.a The Saluting Marine) when asked what he wanted to inspire in people who see him standing/saluting

 

There are 86,532 unaccounted service members dating back to World War I. 1,587 of the MIA/POWs are from the Vietnam War. At least 6 are from Iraq and other conflicts. Then, there are the ones we could be losing. Those who survived lost family and friends, comrades and colleagues, brothers and sisters in arms – and today, like every other day, they remember. Every 72 minutes, a veteran or active service member takes their own life; that works out to ~17 – 20 people a day…~140 a week. These numbers do not include people who attempt suicide or consider it. Keep in mind, that there are a lot of different things people feel when they consider suicide. It’s emotional. There are, also, a lot of different things that pull people back away from the edge. It’s personal.

Retired Marine Staff Sergeant Tim Chambers is spending today (Monday, May 25th) as he has spent Memorial Days since 2002: standing. He stands during the Rolling Thunder event that remembers and raises awareness for MIA/POW service members. This year, he plans to stand for 24 hours, without food, water, or bathroom breaks. He stands to raise awareness about veteran suicides. He stands very publicly (and sometimes very privately) in honor of those who were lost, but also those who are trying to survive. Chambers started an organization called “The Saluting Marine Cares,” which pays for veteran medical bills left uncovered by the Veterans Administration. One of The Saluting Marine Cares staff members, Sabrina Barella said, “Health, relationships, financial, those are the biggest things that contribute to suicide.”

“Health, relationships, financial concerns” are also the things that need to be addressed in order for someone to continue living their lives. Remember, “relationships” are at the top of the list. Relationships are what made “Decoration Days” personal and compelling.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

 

– Ralph Waldo Emerson (b. 05/25/1803)

 

On Memorial Day, let’s make it personal. Please join me on the virtual mat today (Monday, May 25th) at 5:30 PM for a 75-minute yoga practice on Zoom.

This is a 75-minute Common Ground Meditation Center practice that, in the spirit of generosity (dana), is freely given and freely received. You can use the link from the “Class Schedules” calendar if you run into any problems checking into the class. You can request an audio recording of this practice via a comment below.

If you are able to support the center and its teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” my other practices, or you can purchase class(es). Donations are tax deductible, class purchases are not necessarily.)

There is no playlist for the Common Ground practices.

 

#### “Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.” RWE ####

 

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