Here we are, at another Memorial Day weekend. Long-time readers will know that I’ve struggled with these days for a long time. How do we, the living, properly honor our dead- our ancestors, our fallen?
Simply put, there is nothing we can do but remember.
I think the forgotten deserve this remembrance more than the mighty.
The image above is a simple mound in a nearby village, a relic of the indigenous Mound Builders culture. These folks lived until about the 17th century. It seems that most of these people died of waves of disease. Smallpox and influenza killed them off. They had no immunity.
Surely some scattered survivors lived and ended up with other tribes, but their culture was annihilated. Forgotten.
Who mourns the Mound Builders?
I guess I do.
It’s not much, but I prepared a prayer tie and hung it from the dead tree at the top of the mound. You could be depressed about the Mound Builders and the rotten maple at the top of their memorial, but I choose not to look at it that way.
The dead tree atop a dead civilization- it’s all part of the cycle.
Each and every one of us is a survivor of past calamity. Do we really think of ourselves as uniquely divorced from the track of history? Do we think we can escape the Mound Builder’s fate?
Nope, it’s not going to happen.
So on this weekend, I remember. I pay my respects to those who came before. To those whose luck ran out.
Like this guy. A tombstone tucked away in a forgotten corner with about twenty others. Victims or survivors of the US Civil War, by far our deadliest war.
How soon do many forget, or worse, idolize, an ignominious cause? It took years to recover all the dead strewn across the American landscape. Some ended up here.
But not by me. I took a moment and reflected. Hung out with the guys and left them a nice flag. Played a few songs they’d recognize, and the fiddle sang with the gentle breeze.
This is Memorial Day, as I prefer it. No speeches, no band, no BBQ or sales.
Just a survivor’s gratitude.