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Holidays & Seasons        < Previous        Next >

 

Memorial Day: Bravery Duly Noted

 

Today's Snack: For something red, white and blue, try a bowl of blueberries, blackberries and strawberry halves with a little vanilla yogurt or whipping cream.

 

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Supplies:

 

Paper and pencil

An interview with an elder in your family

to provide you with stories for an "oral history" of your family's military service

 

 

Memorial Day is a time to stop and pray, as we reflect on the sacrifice of those who have laid down their lives so that we might live in freedom. 

 

In Washington, the day dawns as the President of the United States traditionally lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Those who attend the early morning ceremony will be able to read some of the words engraved at the heart of Arlington National Cemetery. There's a Latin inscription which, translated, says: "It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country." 

 

This idea, which was written before the birth of Jesus, comes from the Roman author Horace. 

 

When the cornerstone for the Tomb was laid in 1915, a time capsule was placed within it containing several items from our nation's history: a Bible, copies of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, plus a U.S. flag (1915), and Pierre L'Enfant's map design of the city of Washington, D.C. 

There's a lot of symbolism in our military history. For example, U.S. Marines wear trousers that have a blood-red stripe down the length of them, symbolizing the battle that the early Marines fought in Mexico's Halls of Montezuma. The Marine officer's sword, which is called the Mameluke sword, is curved, reminding us that President Jefferson ordered the Marines to storm the shores of Tripoli, Africa.  He wanted to stop Muslim terrorists from kidnapping Americans.

 

"Where do we get such men?" General Dwight D. Eisenhower asked in amazement when he saw Army Rangers scaling the heights of Pointe du Hoc in Normandy on D-Day.

 

The truth is, we get them from the same places we've always gotten them -- from the farms and factories, from villages, suburbs, and big cities, and from America's churches. 

 

How can you be a part of this important holiday?

Most families have at least one member who served in the U.S. military and should be honored every Memorial Day. You would do your family a big service if you would arrange to do an "oral history" of one of the members of your family who served in the military, to record for your family's descendants the things that that person did in military service.

 

An "oral history" is an interview, or series of interviews, in which you ask a few questions and someone else tells stories that reveal things that happened in the past. You could tape-record your oral history, or take notes and write it as a report that you could keep and re-read every year on Memorial Day.

 

If you like to draw, you could make illustrations that would go a long way toward bringing these stories to life. Perhaps your elder could help provide a few old photographs or show you where to download maps from the Internet to show future readers where the military service occurred and a little about that part of the world.

 

Perhaps every year on Memorial Day you could interview a different elder to get those war stories and tales of courage and sacrifice written down as keepsakes for your generation, and the generations to come.

 

By Susan Darst Williams www.AfterSchoolTreats.com Holidays & Seasons 17 2008

 

 

 

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