For me, the long weekend for Memorial Day will always symbolize the onset of summer. It is a time when everyone packs up their cars and heads to the cabin “up north” or visits one of Minnesota’s numerous state parks or lakes. It represents freedom in more ways than one. The freedom of summer and of course the freedom that we are so lucky to have living in this country. A freedom that so many brave souls have fought for and died for.
My grandfather, father and two uncles were both in the US Navy. For my dad, it was a life-changing experience. At the tender age of 19, he set sail and saw the world. He told me that he will never forget the time the ship pulled into a harbor in Italy. It was the early ’60s and his young eyes had never left the United States before. He noticed that there was a large mob of Italians waiting for the ship to pull into port. Was it a welcome? he thought surprised.
Slowly the ship moored and once it was fully secure, the desperately awaiting crowd did something that stunned my dad. They ate. What on earth are they doing? my father asked an older, more experienced shipmate. Eating dinner he replied with a deep, shameful look in his eyes. The locals were so hungry that they feasted off the ships garbage for their meal. It was that moment in which my dad realized how truly fortunate he was, and moment that would be passed on to his children over the years.
His three year service in the Navy began a life long passion of travel and seeing the world. A passion that passed on to me and has never left my soul.
A holiday weekend away from home, along the North Shore of Lake Superior got me thinking. What does Memorial Day truly mean? And what does it mean to me?