More than 45 years ago, I played French horn in a community summer band that, in those apparently more innocent days, would do weekly concerts in a band shell in a small park by the water in whatever town that was. It was directed by a local high school band teacher I had met when my high school band teacher dragged me to play in the pit for a musical that the other fellow was directing.
That couple summers we played lots of those concerts, and I remember a little of it these many years since. I do remember, though, that half of what we played was march music, probably all by John Philip Sousa, and since most of the band members were adults and had played for a while, the band was actually pretty good.
The crowd was older, which I suppose made sense, but really appreciative. And we always closed out with the Stars and Stripes Forever, every week. I figured that the same older people came out to listen every week, because there was a point in the march -- the spot where the joking words we listened to as kids were "Be kind to your web-footed friends, for a duck may be somebody's mother ..." -- where the crowd automatically stood, every week as if on cue.
I think of that today, Memorial Day 2017. As we gather at home, or in band shell audiences, with loved ones or not, and remember the souls who were lost fighting for the freedoms we treasure in this nation of ours, and their families, it is OK to enjoy ourselves. It's OK to have the picnics, and eat the burgers, and pitch horseshoes or whatever. Or go see a community band.
It's OK to do the things we can do. We cannot bring our lost heroes back to life, nor can we provide the solution for those left here to mourn them.
But we can take the day and combine an enjoyment of the treasures of this nation, of the right to be free and enjoy the society of others as we see fit, with a time to remember those who fought that we might have those freedoms to do those things.
I think of my Dad, gone six years ago this month, and his service of over 30 years to his country. He made it back, as they say, and enjoyed a 95-year life on this earth, in this country. He never once took anything for granted, even when he drove me to those summer concerts in the park I'm not sure he enjoyed all that much. You did your part, Colonel.
So take a moment today. Enjoy; be with family. Grill a hamburger or two. Toss a horseshoe. Play with your kids -- or your parents.
Then remember who allowed you to do all that, and take a moment to remember them, too, and pray for them and their families before your second burger.
And at night, find a good community band and listen to a march. I plan to do that, too.
Copyright 2017 by Robert Sutton
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