On the morning of Monday, May 26, I sidestepped two pajamaed little boys (who had started their holiday bright and early by chasing our beagle around the yard) and waved goodbye to my husband, who was mowing the lawn. All down the street, American flags hung proudly over porches and stoops in lieu of the usual whimsical fare (flip flips or pineapples, cardinals or dogwood boughs). It did my heart good, to see that patriotism was alive and well. I felt a deep sense of kinship with my neighbors as fellow Americans, suddenly; and I was reminded why I had opted to go into work on Memorial Day rather than stay home with my family and lollygag in the sunshine.
As usual on patriotic holidays, I had planned a ceremony in our Simms Center. Over 150 people would gather there that morning to observe the holiday together. The room would be awash with the kind of solemn gratitude and patriotic ardor that you just can’t get from a poolside picnic. Most people aren’t fortunate enough to experience this in their workplaces; for me, it is an unarticulated benefit of my employment at Lakewood.
One of my most gratifying experiences while working here has been the opportunity to get to know people from other generations on a very real level. The veterans, in particular, are a group from which I have learned so much. It is utterly astounding to see someone in the fitness center every day and know that he fought at the battle of Midway, or to have a 96-year old who served under Patton share a speech he’s written on the meaning of “One Nation Under God.” I have met both men and women who, whether or not they donned a uniform, did so much to make my own and my children’s freedom a reality. And they seek no acknowledgement, no appreciation, no pats on the back. It’s just the cloth from which they were cut.
No matter that my own life has never been directly touched by warfare, I am able to comprehend it somewhat by virtue of being amongst these generations. I am grateful to have shared a few sacred moments on this holiday with people who know the meaning of liberty; they know it all too well, because it was bought with the blood of their fathers and brothers, of their suitors and sons.