Adrian Vaaler prepares to play "Taps"
I'll just say it: I'm lucky. Lucky to have come from a family relatively untouched by loss from war. So on this day, Memorial Day, my gratitude pours more from my head than my heart. It embarrasses me to write that, but what's true is true.
My mother, the daughter of Polish immigrants, was a first-class patriot. She understood—and felt deeply— what this country symbolized, despite its imperfections. In 1943, she saw her husband—my future father—off to a Navy destroyer in the North Atlantic. He returned. So many others did not.
My mother bore her children in the prosperity of those post-war years, and we were the beneficiaries. She tried to instill in us her loyalty to the flag, but her history was not ours, the lessons already a generation removed. Informed and influenced by the particulars of my own history, my patriotism is more guarded, more cynical.
And yet there it stands in that last sentence, preceded by its own and unapologetic possessive pronoun: my patriotism. My patriotism, which brought me yesterday, as is has for the past decade or so on this commemorative weekend, to the grounds of the Eugene Masonic Cemetery to hear Taps played at noon in the Public Square. This cemetery, quietly managed to honor its location's natural history, is home to the graves of many of our city's founding citizens as well as veterans of 15 decades of wars. To my mother, who made me stand up for the Stars and Stripes, even when they were passing on a television screen, I will say that your lessons did not go unheard. To the women and men who never lived the future I was fortunate to have had, I say "Thank you."
THIS YEAR, 2012, MARKS THE 150th ANNIVERSARY OF TAPS:
Nancy Carol Moody
I'm a poet and a letter-writer. Yup, that kind. The kind who uses pens and paper and actual stamps. The kind who will leave the house with nothing on the agenda but to get to the mailbox before the scheduled pick-up time. The kind who understands that technology is a wondrous thing, but nothing quite beats finding a real letter with a real stamp on it amid the credit card solicitations, pizza coupons and seminar catalogs.