Today is Memorial Day in the U.S., a national ‘howliday’ where we remember all those who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. Originally known as Decoration Day back in the years after the Civil War (when Union and Confederate soldiers honored their dead by decorating their graves with flowers), it has morphed into the current form honoring all Americans who died serving their country.
Today is also the ‘unofficial’ beginning of the summer vacation season and as too often the case here, has been co-opted into a shopping frenzy with Memorial Day sales. It will be a quiet day of reflection at the Ranch, especially given the turbulent climate around the world. Today we honor those in our family who served their country and say a special prayer for the 4-legged who have also served this nation with distinction.
Today is Memorial Day in the U.S., a day where we remember those who died in the service of their country’s armed forces. Originally known as “Decoration Day” back in 1868 following the American Civil War by the Grand Army of the Republic, a Union organization of veterans, as a day to decorate flowers on the graves of Union war soldiers. Confederate groups celebrated on a different day but eventually both Union and Confederate supporters merged their commemoration of all war dead on what we now know as Memorial Day.
The transformation from “Decoration Day” as first used in 1882, to “Memorial Day” wasn’t common until some time after World War II. The name was officially recognized in 1967. When Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act on June 28, 1968, Memorial Day was changed from the traditional May 30th date to the last Monday in May creating a 3-day weekend and it became effective in 1971. The change initially caused some confusion and a certain amount of noncompliance but eventually all 50 states adopted it.
So on this date we here the Ranch acknowledge the service of the servicemen and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country. Wishing you and yours a safe and happy ‘howliday.’
We’re back from Hawaii full of the 3 “E’s”…exhausted, exhilarated and ecstatic to be reunited with our pup. His demeanor when we picked him up was somewhat subdued and it’s clear he was totally overwhelmed. Confusion best described his reaction but with each passing hour he appears to be settling in to the normalcy he was used to before his prison sentence. When they brought him out, he had a fresh wound on his face, perhaps the outcome of an unpleasant encounter with another pup? Was he ‘sharing the love’ with an unwilling recipient? Had he been banging is head against the bars of his kennel in an effort to escape his personal prison? Who knows? The staff hadn’t noticed it (it was pretty small and his coat is a bit long right now) but very recent. My over-active imagination had all sorts of scenarios at the ready, but suffice to say I’m just content my Muppet boy is home. Notice the effective ‘hang-dog’ look of the newly released ‘parolee.’ It appears I shall be reminded of his mistreatment while we were away having fun in Hawaii.
When I went to Hawaii in 2014, I came back and tried to reflect on what the trip meant to me. You can read about those thoughts here. Certainly this trip had similar reflections on the beauty of The Big Island and the importance family holds in my heart. Hawaii is quite the state (as in…the 50th state) but also it’s a state of mind. On our first walk back at home, I reflected on the trip and also about being home. Sure the lupines, poppies and irises are making their beautiful presence known here, and their appearance is always something I look forward to each Spring and yet this year, it seems surprisingly different. And I was truth be told, kind of non-plused. Like Sam, I guess I too am out of step. It’s clear I’m not physically in Hawaii-there are no Jacaranda or other tropical plants to stimulate my senses and no breathtaking sunsets of the beach. Yet being back in the Mile High seems odd too and I feel like a foreigner here. It’s all very unsettling. The neighborhood changed, the city changed or at least my perception of them both changed and it makes me wonder if we still belong here? Can’t answer that yet, still trying to process this state of mind, the feeling of being at home and yet not belonging. Maybe it’s just more of the retirement adjustment period, but one thing is certain, it’s will require some time to figure out. In the meantime, we are trying to slip in to what our old routine was like by doing hospital visits.
Yesterday we were back at the hospital. While I would have preferred a few days to get both of us back on solid ground and fully rested (the return flight was pure living hell), but the schedule for the month was a bit tight and I didn’t want to let the hospital down. I wasn’t sure how Sam would handle it. But like the trooper he is, he was patient and extraordinarily calm, even if a bit off kilter. And of course wouldn’t you know it, so many people wanted to spend loads of time with him. He was so patient with everyone wanting to pet him, though I knew he would have preferred taking a nap at home. Sam stood there and while he kept his eyes on me in true Velcro-dog fashion, he tolerated every single person hanging on or stroking him. My boy was a champ. We ran into the director of volunteer services, who stopped to chat with us. In addition to wanting some one-on-one time with Sam, she thanked us profusely for our volunteer work and said how much of a difference it makes for patients as well as the staff. I told her that we get far more back than we give but it was very gratifying for the acknowledgment. It reminded me how valuable appreciation is for people’s morale note to former employer.
Some last thoughts (or rather images) of ‘there’ vs. ‘here.’ Maybe you can see my conflict or maybe you can share some tips on how to get back on track from a vacation that clearly impacted my soul and essence. I’m missing those incredible sunsets from my son’s lanai, the love of an incredible family…then again, shouldn’t I embrace the beauty and love that surrounds me where I am?
Wishing you and yours a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend.
Today we in the US remember and honor our military personnel who died in the service of their country. While the following two words seem so inadequate considering their sacrifice, I sincerely thank you.