Memorial Day


Poppies veterans
Last night Mick and I watched about an hour of The Hurt Locker. Midway through I asked Mick to pause it and I said “I hate this movie.” I expected him to be disappointed that I no longer wanted to watch it with him. Instead he said “It’s boring.” So we turned it off and watched Glee.

I’d never compare Glee to an Oscar-winning movie, but The Hurt Locker filled me with anxiety. Too much chaos, not enough story. That said, I always feel a little guilty for my disinterest in war films, as though I’m not appreciative of the tremendously brave work soldiers do. They have to live through it and I can’t even watch a film about it? Boy, I am a wuss (not that I think that was ever in question).

One of my favorite blogs, The Pioneer Woman, has recently run a series of photos called “Coming Home.” I’ll tell you, nothing puts a lump in my throat faster than seeing pictures of soldiers coming home to their loved ones. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be separated from my loved ones for months on end like that, not to mention the things soldiers witness on a daily basis while they’re serving in a war. How could life ever be the same after that?

When I was a kid, Memorial Day was the day we went to the cemetery to visit my Grandpa O’Neill’s grave in Santa Rosa. He died when I was seven. I remember the cemetery set up flags all along the perimeter and the veterans sold red poppies. I would walk among the rows of graves, reading the stones. The ones with photos held a particular fascination for me, and a few featured soldiers in uniform.

I will be spending this Memorial Day with friends eating my fill of Spanish food like tortilla de patata and chorizo, a far cry from the Memorial Days of my childhood. But along with this, I will be thinking about all the soldiers who have given their lives in service of our country as well as the soldiers who are currently serving. Politics aside, they are doing their job, and it’s a tough one, one that I would never want to do. For that, I am thankful.

And of course, I’ll be thinking about my Grandpa O’Neill who died so many years ago, and my Grandma Nancy who now lies beside him. Neither of them were veterans, but for me, Memorial Day will always remind me of that cemetery in Santa Rosa, California.

Holly West

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