Rushing out of a local shop yesterday, I blurted, "Happy Memorial Day." Before the last word was out of my mouth I realized that the word happy does not belong in that sentence. But what is the appropriate greeting on this day, a day that has been set aside, officially since 1873, as a day to remember our war dead?
The only appropriate greeting, I suppose, would be no greeting.
When I was a little girl my mother passed down the custom of visiting the cemetery on Memorial Day, a custom I did not so strongly instill in my own children, I'm sorry to have to admit; and there was the annual march down to the town wharf where we school kids tossed our lilacs into the harbor (a tradition that continues today), the meaning of which we would not understand until many years later.
I know there was a parade and a picnic in Vineyard Haven yesterday, but we don't really have a national, collective observance of this holiday, to the point that Memorial Day has become just another shopping and party day and summer's kick-off weekend. In my case, it was a work day.
I like the way Israel celebrates its Memorial Day - Yom Hazikaron. There is a minute-long siren blast that is heard all over the country. At the sound of the siren, everyone and everything comes to a standstill - even traffic stops in the middle of the highways, and everyone stands in silence, collectively remembering and showing respect to all of Israel's fallen soldiers.
I couldn't find my flag, I failed to get it together to put a pot of geraniums (the tradition in my family) onto the family graves, nor did I make it to Vineyard Haven for the parade. I offer these photos as my moment of silence.
The most beautiful grave stone in the cemetery.