Memorial Day. For me it has several connotations.
Memorial Day was when my Grandma's little resort opened for the season, up in northern Michigan. The weekend started with packing all week before. The old station wagon was full by Friday night, and we squeezed on top of the load, laying flat in the back on lumps of paint, tools, supplies. Dad got home from work and we took off around 5:00, arriving at about 11:00. We raced around with our cousins, said hi to Grandma, found a place to lay our sleeping bags and tried to sleep. The weekend that followed was dawn to dark work, to get the place spiffed up for guests, fix the things winter had broken, and work on the new projects to improve it all. Meals were the best, served picnic style because it was hard to fit the family into Grandma's cabin. She was the best cook in the world. Like any kids, we thought the work was hard, but it really was fun. Putting the boats in was the best part- the water was icy, but we didn't care. We looked for fish, but had no time to go fishing. We horsed around and raised hell, but did our best to not bother the guests. We left the resort at dark on Monday, and dad fought traffic to get home around Midnight. We had to unload the station wagon, a chore I hated, because dad had to go to work in the morning, to rest up for the next weekend of the same routine.
As to the true meaning of Memorial Day, honoring those killed serving in war, I have been fortunate that my personal experience is limited to the monuments in Washington DC. The Vietnam Wall, Arlington, the US cemeteries in Europe, and historical accounts. I can"t add any meaning to those memorials except humble thanks to the soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines, and their parents and spouses. I looked for images, pictures I took while at the memorials. I realized that no image can do justice to the profound feeling one has when seeing these memorials in person, so this image of the US Cemetery at Normandy is not meant to replicate that, but to signify it.
In the current expanded meaning of Memorial Day, honoring Veterans, I start with those I know, my family- cousins, sons of cousins, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunt, brother, father, grandfather. Some of them came home changed, physically and mentally. All of them did what vets do, they came home, found a way back into civilian life, and made great citizens. They brought solid values, fearlessness and experience that makes this a better society.