Memorial Day 2020
The Spirit of Tehachapi
May 23, 2020
This year, 2020, will go down as one to be noted in history. I don't know exactly what will actually take place this Memorial Day, but it will be different. Probably, it will stand out in our memories but quite doubtful that future citizens, not yet born, will even know about unless it be given a paragraph in new history books.
I sound cynical but sometimes when I mention on Dec. 7 that it is the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, they say, "Oh, really?" Even President Roosevelt said it would be a day that would live in infamy. Well, time marches on. However, this Memorial Day will be one to remember, perhaps not in infamy, but for this generation. Our imposed isolation hasn't been bad for "just staying apart from one another " but it keeps a fear in one's heart for the threat it imposes on our country's well being. Heck, if I get cabin fever I just call a friend or read. I even cleaned out three drawers and four cupboards! I found things I had forgotten I had.
Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day and actually dates back to Civil War times. President Lincoln, once had suggested there should be a special day set aside for the military who gave their lives for their country. It was in 1868 that Senator James Garfield – one day to be President – gave a speech at the National Cemetery in remembrance.
People have always come to local cemeteries with flowers, wreaths and flags. Our local veterans organizations make sure flags are placed on each veteran's grave. That's a lot of work and a job willingly done. Nothing makes one's heart beat with grateful remembrance as much as watching the eternal Tehachapi breeze keeping a sea of flags fluttering. A wonderful memory to preserve. We do ok. We'll remember.
Memorial Day is designated as the last Monday in May. Another date that helps us remember and also raises funds for the veterans in need is "Poppy Week." The American Legion and Auxiliary, as well as the veterans of Foreign War, during the month of May offer little red poppies to the public. They do not charge but will accept a donation for the little hand made crepe paper poppy that are made by veterans in the hospitals across the nation.
This is not just an adult program. If our children are going to understand the meaning of our military involvement in our nation, they need to have "hands on" involvement. We often ask that the school children make "poppy posters" to display when we offer poppies to the public. They're great pieces of art that we save to use each year. The schools always doing their part for the children also allows them, when time allows, to write essays for competition in the Auxiliary Americanism Essay Program. Titles such as "Our Glorious Stars and Stripes," "Does It Matter If I Vote?" or "What Does The National Anthem Mean To Me?" Wow! After reading a few hundred essays I can only say, the kids get really ready to honor the flag, get out there and vote.
Did you know that during the Battle of Fort McHenry that Francis Scott Key was being held as a prisoner on a British Ship as he wrote the words to our National Anthem?