This Monday, many of us will participate in Memorial Day rituals that date back to the civil war. American flags will decorate our veterans’ graves. Families will lay wreaths and flowers at the headstones of loved ones. Names will be read. And Taps - the civil war bugle call that the Union army once used to signal the end of the day for their troops - will play. Especially now, I find it deeply reassuring to know that, on this one day each year, the same, simple sounds will echo through our communities and across our entire country, from the tiniest rural graveyards to our most grand and sprawling national cemeteries.
I hope these traditions are never lost. But this year, I also hope to do a better job of extending that same sense of reflection and honor to my other “heroes and she-roes,” as Maya Angelou once described them. I know several someones who have given mightily to make my world a safer, brighter place. I know they did so, expecting no reward but the well-being of others and the peace that comes from knowing they did their best. I’m guessing you have some of these heroes and she-roes in your life, too.
Many of those someones were never in the military. They will never win a medal. No one will place a flag at their headstone. Still, theirs was a noble mission.
This year, I’m going to pause in honor of my own, heroic somebodies. I hope you will join me. Whether it was a parent, a teacher, a stranger in an emergency, or a long-dead ancestor who knew you only as a distant but worthy dream, surely your somebodies deserve a moment’s meditation on how their sacrifice has shaped your life, some small salute, with your thanks for all they gave.
After all, there’s plenty of room on Memorial Day to honor all of our heroes and she-roes.
Wishing you all a peaceful and meaningful Memorial Day.