I was thinking I should attend a Memorial Day ceremony or parade today. And, as usual, God gave me what I asked for. Instead of taking my usual right turn toward the library on my morning walk, I went left towards the firehouse. From the open second-floor windows, I could hear the local bagpipers practicing. I figured they were preparing for the parade in the next town south at ten AM. I walked over to the park and took a look at the war memorial lined with flags. I was struck by how many times I saw a last name listed not twice, but three times. I stopped counting after four instances of this.
“You sticking around?” a guy asked me. “Yes,” I said and he handed me a program. I had no idea, but our town’s Memorial Day Ceremony was taking place in five minutes. The bagpipers accompanied our volunteer firefighters over to the memorial. As I stood watching, a woman from my crochet group at the library said, “Do you know the story of the bagpipers?” “No,” I said. “Well, they practice in the firehouse every Thursday night and in exchange for getting to use the firehouse, they accompany our firefighters in parades. ‘Cause it’s expensive to hire bagpipers, you know. Especially for parades.” I love small towns, I thought.
The pastor from the local Episcopal church opened the ceremony with a prayer. Our veterans came forward to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d said those words. We sang God Bless America and then one of our veterans gave a short but touching speech. He explained that veterans write a blank check to their country, payable in duties and services up to and including their lives. He teared up as he asked us to be thankful for all of those that had made good on that check.