By Steve Connolly – Alabama Metal Art
Marked as the official start of Summer, Memorial Day is celebrated on the last day of May. It is, however, the day we all should remember and honor all Americans who lost their lives while serving in the country’s armed forces.
Growing up in a small New England town, I vividly remember marching in the Memorial Day Parade. We would line up at the cemetery just outside of town. Many of the town’s residents stood around the gravestones waiting for the program to start. Soon, a lone trumpeter would begin playing taps. It always gave me chills to hear. After a brief word and a prayer, the band would come alive with a patriotic march. Our march into town, although several miles, was always fun. It was good to see people waving flags, and clapping as we marched by.
Looking Back a Ways
For our family, Memorial Day held a tradition for us in the way of planting our summer vegetable garden. We kept our fingers crossed that the Northern New England weather would cooperate and we would not have to worry about any rogue frosts. Mom and I would be out in the dirt on our hands and knees carefully measuring the depth and spacing of each seed. Being amateur farmers at best, we needed all the luck we could muster when it came to gardening. Planting took us hours to get it all done, but once it was finished, it was a great feeling of accomplishment. Surprisingly, we had great success with our vegetable gardens.
New Traditions with a Young Family
As I got older and had a family of my own, new traditions were started. Moving to a new town now made me an onlooker of parades instead of a participant. Our family would stand along the parade route waving and clapping as floats and bands went by. The kids loved parades as many of the float riders would throw candy to all standing on the roadside. Being in a small town when the parade was finished, we would walk home up the hill laughing and chasing each other. Our kids always loved these family times. Later that afternoon, the grill would be fired up for a small family feast in the back yard. Hot dogs, chips, cold watermelon and ice-cream were carried out to the picnic table. Often, I would look at that ole picnic table and think, someday I have got to paint this thing. 🙂
Fireworks at the Lake
Throughout the day, the excitement would build in anticipation of the evening fireworks show. Every Memorial Day, the town would present an extraordinary light show for all who gathered around the lake in the center of town. Watching fireworks set off from the middle of the lake was always exciting. Not only did the sky light up with many colors but the lake water did as well. Some years we would watch from a park across the lake. I laugh now when I think of a friend who would give us a bang by bang commentary on the fireworks. In the later years when the kids had grown and moved out of the house, I would sit in our upstairs window and watch the fireworks. I would guess it is an advantage of living in a small town where everything is close together.
A Big Change in Location
Moving to Alabama in 1989 gave me another perspective on how people celebrate Memorial Day. “Alabama Jubilee” was the phrase that kept crossing my path. Hearing it so often, I had to find out what it meant. Research pointed to the Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic held at Point Mallard Park in Decatur, Alabama over the Memorial Day weekend.
In fact, this year’s celebration will be its 40th year. Thinking back to our first visit to the Jubilee, I was taken back by the number of balloons and how beautiful they were. It was dreamlike seeing these large balloons inflate and slowly ascend into the morning sky. If my memory is correct, there must have been over 50 balloons participating in the Jubilee that day.
These days we find ourselves gravitating toward a quieter celebration with family and friends. It is fun to sit out on the back deck watching the young ones running around the yard. Having fun with water balloons, checking out the latest addition to the farm animals, or running circles around the yard in the go-cart. It gives us a chance to sit back and ponder our many blessings. It is a time for us to realize that the freedom to have these blessings is because of the many who have gone before us and sacrificed their lives. May we never forget or take them for granted.
Writing Prompt: Consider adding a Memorial Day celebration to your novel or short story.
Steve Connolly works for Alabama Metal Art and would like to share a little about the company.
Who is Alabama Metal Art? We are a small business located in the Shoals Area of Alabama in the city of Florence. We are a close-knit group of employees, who work together to provide a unique product for our customers. Each one of our metal art products are individually crafted for you.
Our product line includes but not limited to:
- Custom Metal Business Signs
- Custom Business Logo Business Signs
- Hospitality Art
- Custom Farm Signs
- Personalized Metal Art for the Home or Office
- Kitchen Metal Wall Art
- Landscape and House Number Signs
- Mailboxes and Posts
- Monogrammed Toppers
- Sports Themed Metal Art