I wanted to write something inspiring on this Memorial Day. But frankly, I couldn't think of anything inspiring to say. So instead, I want to tell you my readers what I'll be doing in the morning. Yes, on Memorial Day 2018.
In the morning, after a shave and a shower, I will dress in my best pair of trousers, put on my American Legion uniform shirt, my western boots, and make sure I have my Legion garrison cover before leaving home. I'll make sure that I have the uniform accessories that I need for others, including an extra "piss cutter" for someone in our Honor Guard who may have forgotten theirs.
I will make sure that I have a flag for our opening ceremony and I will read my favorite Bible verse Micah 6:8 before making sure that our dog has water while she stays home waiting for my wife Deanna and I to get back.
My wife and I will go to the American Legion post just a half mile from our home here in tiny Glencoe. I will make sure that our flags and flag stands are in my vehicle. I will wait until all of the Honor Guard is there so that we can practice our 21 gun salute one more time before going to the Rail Road Flat Cemetery.
While waiting for everyone, I'll make sure our spaghetti has been started so that folks will have something to come to after our Memorial Day observance and the cemetery. I'll talk to Chris Zahniser who graciously volunteered to stay back and prepare lunch. We'll all have a Bloody Mary or two while waiting for the rest of our Honor Guard to arrive for one last drill. Our last rehearsal before leaving for the cemetery.
I will hand out the post's M1 Garand rifles. I made sure they were loaded with blanks and ready to go weeks ago, so all our team has to do is take them off "safety" to fire.
Once in formation, I will call them to attention. I will give them the orders "port arms, right face, prepare to fire, fire, fire, fire!" I'll have them return to port arms and execute a left face. Then I will give them the order to "present arms" while taps is being blown by Rudy Pacheco. After taps, I'll give them order arms and ask if anyone has questions?
It's an old drill. It's an easy way for old Veterans to still preform a rifle squad Honor Guard and look as dignified as we can. Most of us have done this a while. Yes, even those in our Honor Guard who have never served. And yes, I always give a great deal of respect to those who volunteer to do something like the Honor Guard out of a desire to salute Veterans. And of course, as is that case of Memorial Day, to volunteer to salute those who have served but have passed on.
We will load up the M1 rifles into my vehicle and I'll transport them to the cemetery. Once there we will find the usual spot to form up and the squad will wait until the presentation of colors.
I will assist our Post Commander Tony Atnip with raising Old Glory. Yes, I love the feel of her stars and stripes. I love the way she glows in the morning sun. I love the way she snaps in the wind. I love the way she floats in the breeze. I love her history and her dedication to freedom. I love that she represents Americans, our culture, our traditions, our uniqueness.
I love watching the people who arrive from miles around. I love the way the children watch the ceremony with wide eyes and a sense of suspense as to what will happen next.
I will welcome everyone there. I will ask all to stand and uncover while I open the ceremony with a prayer. And yes, I will call up our speakers. At the end of our speakers, I'll instruct our Honor Guard to render our respectful volleys of fire.
After that, I will give a closing prayer where I will ask the Lord to bless those there and those who gave so much to ensure that we remain free. I will beg God in the hopes that our heroes know that we have not forgotten them, that we remember them.
In closing our ceremony here in the Sierra Nevada foothills, here in California's backwoods where we all love and respect our flag and our military, I will ask those there the same thing that I ask each year when standing in front of them there at that small cemetery in the woods. I will ask them to take a moment. To take a few seconds, not really much time, and whisper the words, "I remember you."
That's it. That's all I ask every year on Memorial Day. All I ask is for people to take a few seconds out to say, "I remember you!"
In all of the world, no one military has given so much to the world as American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines. Taking a few seconds out to simply say, "I remember you" is not much to ask in return for what they have done for us.
It would be glorious if there were a chorus of "... and I thank you!" But that might be a lot to ask. So for me, I will settle for everyone simply saying, "I remember you."
Thank you. God Bless you for remembering!