For the past four years during the Memorial Day weekend, my family has gathered with dear friends to celebrate the beginning of summer with a picnic at Wolftrap National Park in Vienna, VA, followed by Garrison Keillor's live broadcast of "A Prairie Home Companion."
Everything was perfect yesterday - the company, the weather, the conversation, the food - the wine! The seats we had were the best ever!
I remember the first time I saw Garrison Keillor in Minnesota, about 27 years ago or so - as a very young bride. I'd say Garrison and I have come a long way since then and we are certainly a little more seasoned!
Since this broadcast is held during the Memorial Day weekend in the nation's Capital - the show is replete with plenty of political references and jokes - but most especially - there is always a few poignant segments where we remember those who have given their lives selflessly for us and for the sake of our freedom.
I thought of being at my son's graduation last weekend and how my son lost a classmate born the very year he was born. I spontaneously and unexpectedly burst into tears thinking - here I am celebrating this rite of passage - and some mother somewhere is grieving for her child - who is not graduating and is no more. I can only imagine what that kind of grief would be like.
So many have lost their lives in the last few years. Yes - so many sons and daughters no older than my own. I am reminded of that every time I look at the pictures and information of the fallen that are periodically remembered in the newspaper.
Garrison Keillor read a "Memorial Day Sonnet," which I discovered, as a result of an Internet search - was the very one he read four years before, and I reproduce it here:
Memorial Day Sonnet
"We're here to honor those who went to war
Who did not wish to die, but did die, grievously,
in eighteen sixty-one and in two-thousand four
Though they were peaceable as you or me.
Young and innocent, they knew nothing of horror -
Singers and athletes, and all in all well-bread.
Their sergeants, mercifully, made them into warriors,
And at the end, they were moving straight ahead.
As we look at these headstones, now on row on row,
Let us see them as they were, laughing and joking,
On that bright irreverent morning long ago.
And once more, let our hearts be broken.
God have mercy on them for their heroic gift.
May we live the good lives they have lived."
Yes - may we live the good lives they would have lived - nothing more - and nothing less. We can honor them in no better way than truly living as fully in the moment as we were meant to live and be.
This is how we must honor those who have given their lives for us - and for those who gave them life as well - those parents who remember their children at this time.