It's Memorial Day...again. And this isn't just one of those phoney baloney holidays made up by fat cat Union gangsters (we all know the truth, Labor Day). This is the day we remember not to forget...we remember, if we are civilians, that the military actually exists and that real people still choose to join it, and if we are touched by military families, we remember that our friends have moved away and we need to wish them a happy memorial day on Facebook. But those of us who live on military bases, who have seen the rocky beaches of Guam, who still don't know what to say when asked the question 'Where are you from?', we remember other things. I remember lots about Matt, but on this day, I always remember his funeral. And one very specific detail always comes to mind about that day. I was watching his dad, holding his mother, when the first shot of the traditional 21 gun salute was fired. The crack of those seven rifles, going off in unison, was so loud and so sharp, it stunned us all. It stunned us out of our pain, out of our feeble attempts to hold things together, out of our thoughts of what we were doing, and we were suddenly driven right back to what we felt the moment we were told that Matt had been killed. We were stunned, and I watched a tear fall from that man's eye. Matt was more than a soldier, but on Memorial Day, that's the part of him I remember not to forget.
Memorial Day is a holiday, too, and everybody has their own routines for a holiday. We are no exception. This year, we decided to picnic in a park we'd never been to as a family. So we packed up the Kia and headed over to Canal Park, now part of the city greenway. When Beck and I first visited it, though, it was just a weird park next to the sewage plant. Awesome choice for a date, I know, but Beck confided in me recently that she always thought I was quirky. Nowadays, it's a great place to find a picnic table overlooking the Congaree River, and that's just what we did. We ran into another family like ours, toting their overloaded picnic bags around, who said they were trying to find a place to play in the river. Canal Park is not that place, though, and they turned around in search of something a little more primitive. It is a good place to ride bikes, as we discovered from the bikers going by, and when we left, I made a mental note to try it that way one day. On the way home, we made a few stops for some light shopping and picked up a new inflatable pool to use in our slanted backyard, where it inevitably now has both a deep end and a shallow end. I grilled up some burgers and hotdogs for dinner, which is what people eat when they feel patriotic, and the family sat down for a private viewing of 'We Bought a Zoo'. Nothing finishes off a day like a sentimental Matt Damon.
The only other thing worth noting about this Memorial Day is Savannah lost her front tooth and the tooth fairy had to make a visit to our house, and on a holiday no less. It was a good day for the Gongre's, and we hope it was the same for your family. Happy Memorial Day. Remember not to forget.