Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Yesterday morning I got up early, turned on the television, and was dismayed to see that there was a heavy line of thunderstorms marching across Long Island in our direction. Judging by the time and the speed of the storms I knew what was going to happen: the rain was going to hit here just in time for the parade. It was disappointed but not deterred.
The last time we had heavy rain on Memorial Day was about 8 years ago. I marched with the ambulance association and was soaked by the time I arrived at the green. Then I had to sit with the officials on the hill and when I realized that the marching band had not attended because of the weather, I offered to sing the national anthem. How could we not have the national anthem? The Commander of the American Legion was happy to take me up on the offer. Then I nervously sat there thinking about all the people who have butchered that song over the years because of the difficult words and music. I said a quick prayer for help and all went well. The crowd was small - very few attended.
But it was one of the most meaningful Memorial Days ever for me. Because as I walked, and then sat, in the pouring rain, my thoughts went to my father and all the other service men and women past and present who endure much harsher weather conditions. I remembered my father talking about the winter he spent engaged in the Battle of the Bulge where the snow and cold were so bad that men froze to death overnight on a regular basis. I thought about the muddy conditions in Viet Nam where my own contemporaries spent hot humid days with wet socks and boots and uniforms. And I thought about those serving right now in the Middle East, where the desert can be brutal and a little rain might be a welcome relief.
So yesterday when the rain started as we stood at the reviewing stand watching the marchers pass, I again spent my time thinking about the sacrifices made by others on my behalf. Somehow the rain seemed apropos.