Memorial Day–A new tradition courtesy of Giggles.

Giggles learned all about Memorial Day in school.  She even learned things that I didn’t know.  She came home discussing how we should all wear a flower.   Shamefully, I knew nothing about this tradition.  Holidays, especially national ones, are a HUGE deal in Ghana.  I was there for Ghanaian Independence Day.  I got to watch all the kids march with such pride for their country.  Very sweet.  Giggles is always very curious about holidays in this country.  What will we do?  Where will we go?  I think our traditions seem a little whacky to her.  She was here for Easter, when we celebrated the resurrection of our Savior by…dying eggs and eating candy?  See, I told you, whacky.  Don’t get me wrong, you would think she won the lotto when she saw that stupid plastic grass filled basket.  I think it just seemed odd to her.

So, when she asked me about Memorial Day, and what we would do, I felt a little bad.  We don’t really “do” anything.  Technically, I don’t know anyone who has fallen in battle.  We know plenty of Veterans and people in active service, but do you really wish them a Happy Memorial Day?  Isn’t this a day of mourning?  So, I called the best vet I know, my grandma.  That’s right.  My grandma, who is 90 years old, is a vet.  She was a Marine that served in World War 2.  They wouldn’t let her go overseas, even though she would have been the first to volunteer, so she worked as a Control Tower Operator in Cherry Point, North Carolina.  Today, at the age of 90, she works hard lobbying for Veterans Benefits.  She told me she would be up at the Capitol for the Memorial Day Ceremony, then at a dedication for the new Memorial of the Fallen Soldier, then doing some gun salute that I still don’t really understand (sorry Gram).  She’s amazing.  So dedicated to her cause.  Maybe that’s where I get my want to help from?

I asked Grandma about putting out flags at the cemetery.  True to form, she’d already been out and decorated.  I asked her about my Grandpa, who was a Navy Seabee, but died of lung cancer in 2001.  Did he have a flag?  He sure did.  But, she said she would love it if we “visited” and put a little something there as well.  I told Giggles that is what we would do.   The kids spent all Monday morning making flags.  They were definitely their interpretation of the flag, and the GhanaDuo wrote “Thank you for our freedom Oba*ma” on them, which led to an email to my Grandma.  She’s not exactly his biggest fan.  But, it was so cute that they’re trying so hard to connect being American with something they are really proud of, so she understood.  They’re proud of Ob*ama, mostly because of the visit he made to Ghana last year.  On Monday, we took our homemade flags and seven more traditional flags to my grandpa’s grave.  They were very respectful, and totally cute.

We left the flags there.  My Gram came and picked up the homemade flags later as a keepsake of our new tradition.  She sent me an email saying how much it meant to her, I shared it with Giggles.  She was very proud.  The seven little flags, along with a note from me, are still sitting there.  Giggles asked to read the note before we left the house.  
Dear Grandpa,
Seven homemade flags for you today, along with seven more traditional flags, in honor of the seven great-grandchildren that you fought for.  They live in freedom today because you fought for us.  
Gone, but never forgotten.
When she read it out loud, I cried.  She asked why.  I told her how, just a few short months after getting married, Grandpa was told to go and fight.  He didn’t run away, he stood up for what he really believed was right.  Then, Gram went and fought too, because she thought it was right too.  And, she never believed anyone who told her she couldn’t just because she was a girl (Giggles liked that part of the story).  I told the kids how Grandpa was on a ship in the ocean that someone flew a plane into.  The shrieking from the crashing plane left him almost totally deaf.  His air craft carrier sank, and he had to float in the middle of the ocean for hours.  Later, when he had a family, he always had trouble hearing his children.  He could hardly hear music, or the TV, anymore.  And, by the time I came along, we had to shout to him to be heard because even the hearing aids weren’t much help.  He made huge sacrifice for us.  I told her that we might not be able to be a family if people like him didn’t fight to keep us free.
I told them I was crying because there are thousands of stories like that.  I reminded the kids that Grandpa felt fortunate that all he lost was his hearing.  There are many people who lose their lives.  I think they got it.  But, Middle-Middle did tell us that he hoped he never had to fight.  I told him I hope not too.  But, it doesn’t mean we’re not grateful to the people that do.  
To all the people in active service, or the ones who fought and sacrificed, thank you for keeping my kids safe.
who is very proud of her family history today.  

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