Memorial Day is one of my favorite holidays. Not because it ushers in the official season and we are enjoying the sunny days, but because it holds so many memories of small-town life for me. East Hampton is perfect on Memorial Day.
We throw a real "local" celebration in the morning, with a parade of armed forces veterans, boy scouts, brownies, and the high school band. There are no floats, no cheerleaders, no celebratory entries. It's a somber tribute to those who have served and its not a time to laugh and party. It's a time for quiet remembrance. And that's what we do.
I especially enjoy the ceremony at the green. The speaker is always inspiring, the firing squad is always startling, and taps is always somber. I walk home feeling grateful for those that made the ultimate sacrifice. I always feel in a way that its a shame more people don't attend. It seems a small thing to do, taking about two hours out of one's morning to honor our fallen. I don't know why so few bother. But in another way, I'm just as glad. It's more intimate and "small town" with fewer numbers. In fact one of my favorite ceremonies took place about seven years ago in a total downpour. The band didn't play, we sang the national anthem as a group, there were very few in attendance, and it was incredibly moving. I stood in the rain thinking about my father and his descriptions of the winter he walked across Belgium in the cold and snow. And the stories my own contemporaries tell of the tropical rains of Viet Nam. It certainly wasn't too much of a sacrifice for me to stand in that rain, soaked through my clothing, as a memorial to those who had no choice. That was a Memorial Day I will never forget.