Our local cemeteries are never lovelier than on Memorial Day. The green, manicured grass, the myriads of wreaths and bouquets families lay on the graves of loved ones are a sign of the respect and love we show to those who came before. A drive through the cemetery of any community gives you some sense of how citizens view the history of their town and those who laid the foundations for what we have today. Love, respect, duty are all the watch words of the day.
My mother told how growing up in a ranching community, the children would pick wild flowers and take them to the various cemeteries laid out on the prairie. Called ‘Decoration Day’ back then, Memorial Day was established to remember those who served our country in the military, but also to honor all the dead who make up part of our own histories. To have lived a life on this earth deserves the respect of the living.
Glendive is fortunate to have two cemeteries that are well cared for. The summer crews have been busy preparing for this week-end. After the microburst last summer numbers of volunteers showed up to rake, gather branches, and cut down broken limbs. Broken tombstones were set right. It was the right thing to do. This year a new walkway has been laid in the military portion at the Dawson County Cemetery. Respect for the dead. To not forget we are part of that historic line which did not begin with us is a good ethic to teach our children.
Not only do we respect the dead, but of equal importance is our respect for the living. Memorial Day can be a time of new commitment to the future.Sometimes that is more difficult. The current tax bill coming to Congress threatens to cut trillions of dollars for the poor in the form of food programs and medical needs. If those proposals pass we will need to be ready to have a steady stream of food for our food bank to keep children and their parents fed. We need to advocate for the poor as a sign of respect for their needs and our ability to assist them. We will need to dig deeper into our pockets to help our churches and local and global programs to feed the hungry.
One author has written that to speak of leaving a dead planet Earth due to pollution and climate change and head out to the stars to find other places to colonize is not a noble venture, rather it is only taking our problems with us. We are all together on this single space ship called Earth, hurling through a Universe so vast we have no comprehension of its boundaries. We have to respect the past and those who lived in it; we have to care for today and give our children a future to grow up in; we have a beautiful, bountiful creation full of wonders that diminish anything humans can create.
Life, death; present and past. We have only this moment to make it work.