The calendar tells us that Monday has been designated as Memorial Day, a day set aside to pay tribute to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service for our country — honoring those who died in service so that we might enjoy the many freedoms we have in this country.
MMy childhood memories of Memorial Day tributes are very special. I grew up in the small community of Dresden on the shores of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region. There was a service at the only church in town with Clarence Ryal reading “the roll.”
In his familiar, raspy voice he would read each name of those who had died in service. While visiting in Dresden a few years ago, I learned Mr. Ryal read the roll for 80 years.
The service in Dresden included songs sung and the recitation of the Gettysburg Address by a sixth-grader in the elementary school nearby. The Girls and Boy Scouts and Brownies also presented songs and poems as the tribute continued.
The event concluded with a parade, complete with floats (in the days before keyboards, one float held an upright piano my father played during the parade). The parade concluded at the cemetery; taps was played with a responsive echo from across the field.
Each of the children was given a basket of flowers (I remember iris among them). At a designated time, we would place our baskets at a grave where a flag had been placed, flying in remembrance. We learned in that simple act to honor and pay tribute.
There will be no parades this year and, as I understand it, no gathering at cemeteries and no services of remembrances.
I hope though you will still remember and pay tribute this year. I read that in 2000, Congress passed legislation encouraging everyone to pause for a National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day.
While at home this year, remember and pay tribute by pausing at 3 p.m. for the Moment of Remembrance. And take a moment to say thank you to each veteran you know who has served. You can call and say thank you or perhaps mail a card this week to a family of a veteran or someone who has served. This Memorial Day, let it be a time for remembering and paying tribute.
The readership of this column is amazing — I love each note, card and telephone call as you share your thoughts about what I have written each week. Last week, I mentioned a new project called Mail Art with a call to write and to decorate envelopes as art.
What a joy when our mailbox held a wonderful letter from a reader in Massena. The envelope came complete with a colorful, crayoned rainbow above two clouds with the note “Ellen’s Rainbow!”
Inside was a 3x5 card with the Maya Angelou quote I had included in my column a few weeks ago. What fun!
My heartfelt thanks for this creative mail art sent to our home on a weekday morning. You were my rainbow that day!
I discovered this week that Mail Art was not a new idea. During this time at home, I have been sorting boxes that have been tucked away — boxes of children’s artwork from an earlier time, cards and letters and files from so many committees I have served on.
This week I found letters from our niece Diva, who now lives in California. Diva wrote numerous letters to her Aunt Ellen.
I had forgotten about these letters and how creative the very young Diva was. Each envelope is colorful complete with crayoned images and stickers — stickers of the sun and numerous cat figures! My heartfelt thanks, Diva, for your beautiful letters, which made me smile this week as I remembered our correspondence a few years ago.
The final sentence of one letter written in 1993 touched my heart. Young Diva wrote in a child’s script, “Just remember that I love you!” What a beautiful thought — one I will remember.
My thanks continue to each one who delivers packages to our home and who makes sure our groceries are in order as we stop for our grocery pick-up at Walmart. This week The Gardener discovered we can also do a curbside delivery at Tractor Supply.
Our thanks to Jeffrey at Tractor Supply who made sure that our order was ready. And for that we are most grateful.
Last week as I visited with friends on Zoom (it still amazes me each time I touch “Join Meeting” and friends appear on the screen — technology is truly extraordinary), one woman had taken pictures of a robin’s nest while walking. It was mentioned that it seemed like there were more birds than usual this year. It seemed that this year there have been more birds at our feeder.
I thought, though, perhaps it was only because I have been home more and with additional time to look outside that it seemed like more birds. The Birder (an additional title for The Clockman) tells me there are flickers, rose breasted grosbeaks, cardinals, woodpeckers, nut hatches, red winged blackbirds, blue jays, chickadees, phoebes, goldfinches, mourning doves — just to name a few!
Saturday morning as I watched “CBS This Morning,” anchorman Jeff Glor commented “the morning chorus is louder” as he introduced the next news segment. Jennifer Ackerman, an author, discussed the state of birds, telling viewers that it seems the natural world is in overdrive. She said that because of climate change and a loss of habitat, “birds are hurting.”
She explained that birds are perhaps the most visible wildlife so we notice more at our feeders. The author told the CBS audience that it is “imperative we as a race … preserve it. … We are responsible to preserve [our wildlife].”
If you notice, as we have in our home, more birds this year and a wider variety of species at your feeder (or perhaps a racoon or two) in your yard, you are not alone and there is a reason for the numbers now in your yard. As we continue with social distancing, my advice would be to enjoy our feathered friends — fill the feeders, add more suet and listen for their songs.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.”
— Harry S. Truman