If I were honest, I’d have to admit that I’m rather fussy about Memorial Day. This is pretty weird for me actually. It’s not that I regularly go to cemeteries and put flowers by the graves of the war dead, or something similarly significant.
It’s just that I hate the holiday being reduced to being “the unofficial beginning of summer.” I’m also pedantic enough to want to correct people about the difference between Veterans Day in November, which honors all veterans, and Memorial Day in May, which is set to REMEMBER those who died in military service to their country. Now, I don’t ACTUALLY correct people in person.
To the best of my knowledge – and obviously, my information is necessarily incomplete – I have no one in my lineage who has died in a war. I have a great-great-grandfather, James Archer, and two of his relatives who fought in the Civil War for the Union. When he came back from the war, he and his wife had my great-grandmother, who eventually had my maternal grandmother.
My paternal grandfather, McKinley Green, fought in World War I. And my maternal grandmother’s brother, Edward Yates, fought in World War II. Of course, my father, Les Green, served there as well. His cousin Sheldon Walker, who died recently, served in the military, but I don’t know if he was stationed in a combat zone. Still, thankfully, they all survived.
A matter of a few inches
I was recently watching an old episode of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates. He was describing to late-night talk show host Seth Meyers how the comic’s ancestor went to Canada during World War I so he could fight to support his native Britain. The ancestor was wounded, but not grievously so. Meyers noted correctly that an explosive being launched a foot closer to his grand and there would be no Seth Meyers.
So I’m grateful that, to my knowledge, my people made it back to their lives. This makes me think about all of those who did not.