Memorial Day, Part 2Memorial Day, Monday, 31 May 2010 – I hope you have taken the opportunity to learn more about Memorial Day this year – when it started, why it was inaugurated, why we celebrate Memorial Day. When we commemorate Memorial Day is now the last Monday in May, so that it makes a three-day weekend. That’s a modern accommodation; I think it is to keep workers happy, and to make the most of commercial opportunities. It was originally designated to be set aside as the 30th of May, and initiated shortly after the Civil War. In the South they had this tradition, and when the US president’s wife learned of it she recommended it to her husband. Pretty soon it was a national day of rememb’rance for those who fought for their nation’s principles, as they understood them.
I attended the program at the Southern Oregon War Memorial at Don Jones Park here in Central Point, Oregon, where I live. There was a banner about it across our main street. I noticed it on the way home yesterday. I am sure it had been there for a while, but just after I had been thinking, “I wonder if they are going to do that again this year?” I came upon the banner: 9:00 a.m. I am sorry I did not get there sooner, because when I arrived our local state representative, Dennis Richardson, was thanking the middle school band for the music they had been playing. He also was pleased that they were starting, not late, but maybe a little bit early, and that that said something about our community support for this sort of function.
The Southern Oregon War Memorial is only two years old, since its dedication. It is right next door to the Central Point I.O.O.F. Cemetery. There are a couple of Spanish American War veterans buried there. At the end of the Memorial Day program, Dennis Richardson challenged us as a community, that as evidenced by how the community turned to to make the war memorial a reality, that we could rally to participate in the upkeep of the cemetery. Caretaking of the cemetery went from the IOOF to a local attorney, who asked scouts and friends from the LDS church in Central Point to help with a service project for a major cleanup and then a couple of maintenance days. It is looking pretty good now. Just lately the City of Central Point has agreed to take it on.
US Representative Greg Walden spoke. US Senator Ron Wyden spoke. It was an inspiring program. Names were read of servicemen who have lost their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq from this area, and whose names will be added to the memorial. The national anthem was sung by two young people from Crater High School. The flag ceremony was conducted by Crater Lake Council Boy Scout Troop 109. It was very nice. They closed with an a capella rendition of Amazing Grace. The rain did hold off for the duration, as had been prayed for. :-)
When I got home I had a message on my answering machine inviting me to Anna Maria Creekside retirement community. This time last year I was doing my student internship for Rogue Community College at Anna Maria. The activity director invited me to come help sing Amazing Grace for their Memorial Day service. I was glad I had gotten home in time, and I went directly. For Veterans Day last year at Anna Maria we had interviewed the residents who would, who had served in the military, in war time and peace time, and who had served as civilians with the military or the merchant marine, or in the (European) resistance. We had some wonderful stories of camaraderie, sacrifice, and patriotism. To know you is to love you. Veterans generally do not toot their own horns. ‘Duty not toot-y. And support at home is usually not wont to ask for more than that their loved one return from war through God’s watchful care for all our servicemen. Service to a grateful nation is rendered from a sense of inner direction. If a minimum military service is compulsory, hopefully the little light bulb will come on in those who recognize the nobility of the call.
Today I have reflected upon the tradition of military service in my own family. The Purple Heart Society had a table at the war memorial today, with their leaflets and purple flowers. I took one. My father had a purple heart. Maybe my eldest brother has it now. Our father served as a French translator in the Korean conflict. His father went to Annapolis, and was head of the Supply Corps in the Navy when he retired from the Pentagon. My great grandfather was a Commodore in the Paymaster Corps in the Navy, After his retirement they moved to Annapolis when their second son was attending the Naval Academy, too. My great great grandfather, Ethan Crandall Ring – I have not found military service for. He was born in 1812. He had a son in the Army in the Civil War, and a son in the Navy. He served in the Massachusetts legislature. His father, Eleazer Ring, fought in the Revolutionary War, from Worthington and Chesterfield, Massachusetts. That’s my father’s direct line. My father’s brother was career Air Force, and his two sons were Air Force and Navy. Two of my father’s sister’s son’s were Air Force and Army. Two of my children were Air Force and Army. My husband was Navy and Army. They all had honorable service. I am thankful to them personally for their service to our freedom, to our country. XO
Ancestry.com and WorldVitalRecords.com both usually have special deals on access to their military records for the national holidays. Watch for them. Many LDS family history centers also have a membership sponsored for those two services, among others. Your local library also may have an Ancestry.com Library level subscription. Military records can tell you a lot.