Memorial Day wasn’t a picnic day in my family.  My dad usually worked holiday weekends during warm months.  It was the first “summer” weekend on the lake back home and he did boat patrol.

My siblings and I would go to the parade and then usually the cemetery for the words offered by veterans who lost friends at war. 

The parade crowd was large for such a short march through town.

The parade crowd was large for such a short march through town.  A color guard, some members of the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Boy Scouts and a fire engine.

There would be much chatter before it began and then a silence would descend along East Main Street.  The only sound the clicking of the heels on the shoes of the color guard.  Some wearing polished silver helmets glistening in the sun.  An old man would call out cadence.

The parade would round Genesee Street and then on to the cemetery atop Medbury Heights.  These streets and places may sound strange to the ear but the sights are common in small towns across Idaho.  Just not many, it seems, in the Magic Valley.  Maybe it’s because there are fewer veterans now than when I was a boy and they don’t get involved at the VFW.  Maybe it’s because there are fewer Boy Scouts and fewer volunteer firefighters available to drive trucks.  I don’t have an answer but we lose something when there are no longer communal somber moments.  Only a few towns any longer appear to shut down streets and stores, even if for just a few minutes, to honor the fallen.

When I was a young reporter the National Commander of the American Legion once told me the goal of the organization was to someday no longer have a mission, however.  The need for Memorial Day will never vanish, even if war could somehow become a relic of the past.  There will always be history and there will always be graves.