Memorial Day means different things to different people.
Some spend the day in cemeteries or high school gyms with red, white, and blue wreaths, honoring those whom gave the ultimate sacrifice.
For others it is a time to mark summer with gooey smores and slabs of meat cooked on the grill.
And yet others see it as another day. Maybe they have it off, maybe they don’t.
I had no real intentions for this day when I set out on an early morning run on my Tidal Basin – WWII Memorial – National Mall route. I came up to the Jefferson Memorial and noticed that there were no people and I decided to use the opportunity for an intimate moment with TJ. From there, I felt the patriotic urge to photograph every monument I came across, to fully recognize and appreciate these landmarks that I usually just past in the thick flow of everyday life.
I had never been to Arlington National Cemetery and today seemed like as good as any to go. At the entrances Boy Scouts were handing out flowers as part of a Memorial Day program sponsored by various organizations so we grabbed a few even though we didn’t know anyone in the cemetery. I used social media to find out if I could lay a flower for someone who couldn’t be here and my friend Anne said that her great grandfather was buried in the cemetery, alongside his wife. My father also suggested the headstone of Joe Foss, former governor of South Dakota and WWII fighter pilot. We actually had a lot of fun finding the headstones and placing the flowers down where there hadn’t been flowers. We also got there just in time for the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, which was incredible, and then walked over to the Marine Corps War Memorial.
Also, to me, Memorial Day is about honoring all of those who died while serving their country, which includes the Peace Corps. Many know that my friend Stephanie died just two weeks after we were sworn in as Peace Corps Volunteers in Niger. Peace Corps has a memorial for all volunteers who died during service and I saw it a few weeks ago when I was at headquarters. The memorial took me by surprise but I scanned for her name immediately. Tears filled my eyes as I thought about that beautiful, funny woman who died doing something she was really proud of.
This day comes on the end of a really wonderful weekend and a reminder to always be thankful. There is more than we know to be thankful for and sometimes we need to really stop and breathe in all of the blessings.