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My Mother’s Day Tribute

You are intelligent, patient, funny, witty, compassionate, humble, understanding, eclectic, strong and classy…only to name a few…

You taught me to be a free-thinker, to enjoy a wander through the woods, to be independent, to choose my words with care, to use my common sense and to know that I can never have too many books.

I’ve inherited your never-ceasing imagination, the “eye” to take an interesting photograph, a thirst to learn new things, a fascination with history and the ability to look good in almost any hat.

You were a dedicated, hard-working teacher for over 30 years; leaving the house by six and more times than not, arriving home closer to five…but then you’d have a home-made dinner on the table by six. I still don’t know how you did it.

This year marks 50 years of being married to your college sweetheart – another amazing feat especially considering the sweetheart… (Love you, Dad, but you know you can be…difficult sometimes).

You are your father’s daughter – a storyteller through and through…which is why you are an award-winning children’s book author.

You are forgiving – I’m sorry I took all your Metallica CDs when I left for college so many years ago.

You never expect anything; so your eyes light up with every gift and thoughtful gesture and we can see how precious it is to you.

Mum author photoYou inspire me because you are always full of energy, love and life.

You are my mother and I wish I could be there today to tell you all this in person. I am extremely proud of you and can only hope to be half the woman you raised me to be.

I love you, Mum.

To my own and all the mothers of the world: thank you for all that you have done/continue to do/will ever do for us.

Happy Mother’s Day!


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Veterans: Thank you for your service

wpmVisiting my grandparents’ house growing up I was always enamored with this photograph of my grandfather. He looked so young that I almost couldn’t recognize him – almost. The kind glint in his eye and his smile were still the same decades later, but as a child, the photo was a bit of a mystery to me. It hung in a large frame surrounded by at least half a dozen similar photos of young men, and it wasn’t until I was a teenager that I realized that they were Marines, just like my grandfather. Like many veterans of World War II, my grandfather rarely spoke about his service and I never recall him doing so in my presence.

Both of my grandparents have passed away, my grandfather in 2011, so in search of more information about our family veteran, I turned to my mother. Not surprisingly, she too knew little about her father’s service during the war. “He just didn’t talk about it”…but that’s not to say she knew nothing.

He’d enlisted likely around 1941, along with his cousin “Strawberry” (named for his bright red hair) out of a sense of civic duty – that it was the thing to do. He’d been stationed in San Diego, Hawaii and Samoa in the South Pacific. He was in Radio and Communications. My mother did not believe he’d seen much active, violent duty – a fact that I found comforting. Although, I doubt he would have admitted it to his loved ones even if he had.

Those were really the only specific details my mother knew, but not the only stories. In 1942, while on a 48-hour pass around Thanksgiving, my grandfather returned to Indiana and married my grandmother. Afterward, when they were living in San Diego, they stayed with an Italian couple that treated them like family; hosting fellow Marines to large meals on Sundays. The newlyweds also loved visiting the San Diego Zoo and spent many days there together.

I loved hearing those stories, but my favorite one relayed to me by my mother took place while my grandfather was in the South Pacific. Marines were given ration coupons for their cigarettes and beer, but since my grandfather didn’t smoke and rarely drank he traded those coupons with other Marines. For what? Milk and ice cream. Hearing that, it truly made me smile because it was so in line with the man I grew up with and loved…my grandfather loved his ice cream.

After his tour of duty, my grandfather finished the college education that he’d started before enlisting. He was a vocational agriculture teacher for a number of years, then an 8th grade science teacher (teaching at least one future astronaut). He loved his children and grand-childern and was one of the most entertaining and animated storytellers I’ve ever heard. And even though he did not speak about his experience during the war, he was proud to have served his country. Every now and then you could have heard him humming the the Marine Hymn because after all, once a Marine, always a Marine.

Semper Fi, Grandpa.

wpm2

My gratitude and thanks to all veterans on this day of remembrance. You do us all a great honor and service.


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Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day, but what does that really mean beyond the possibility of a three-day weekend? Here is what I found out…

Firstly, Memorial Day should not be confused with Veteran’s Day, which honors the service of all our men and women military veterans. Memorial Day started as “Decoration Day”, originating after the Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died – today, Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring ALL those who died while serving our country.

Did you notice an American flag this morning?

On this day of memorial, the flag will be raised to the top of the staff and then lowered to the half-staff position which is in remembrance of the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service. At noon, the flag is raised back to the top of the staff where it will remain for the rest of the day. This act symbolizes raising the memory of the dead and declaring that their sacrifice was not made in vain. Our departed service members did their duty and more, it is up to us to continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.

Did you also notice, as you passed by a cemetery today, an abundance of flowers laid on the graves?

This practice of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers, is actually an ancient custom, one that took on greater cultural significance after the Civil War. After the government began creating national military cemeteries, an increasingly formal practice of decorating graves took shape. Caring for the landscaping around the graves is another simple way to say thank you and to pay your respects.

And if you would like to leave flowers, I would recommend poppies. The remembrance poppy has been used since 1921 to revere soldiers who have died in war. This was inspired by a poem written in 1915 after the Second Battle of Ypres in World War I. The opening lines of Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields” refer to the fields of poppies that grew among the soldiers’ graves in Flanders. Three years later, Moina Michael, considered the Memorial Day Poppy Founder, wore a silk poppy pinned to her coat and distributed dozens more at a War Secretaries’ conference.

I hope this gives you a new solemn respect for this day, I know it certainly did me.

“Better than honor and glory, and History’s iron pen,
Was the thought of duty done and the love of his fellow-men.”
~Richard Watson Gilder

Recommended books for adults:

–Section 60: Arlington National Cemetery: Where War Comes Home by Robert M. Poole

–Offerings at the Wall: Artifacts from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection

by Thomas B. Allen

–Fallen Soldiers: Reshaping the Memory of the World Wars by George L. Moss

Recommended books for children:

–The Wall by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Ronald Himler

–In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem by John McCrae by Linda Granfield, illustrated by Janet Wilson

–The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans by Barbara Walsh, illustrated by Layne Johnson

~Eliza G.

Eliza G

 

When she is not being a responsible adult and working at McKay’s, Eliza fills her time with numerous creative pursuits including: jewelry-making, etching, and crocheting. When she’s not crafting, reading, writing or plotting to take over the world, you’ll probably find her napping with her dogs.