Memorial Day. A day to remember those who have sacrificed. It’s impossible to see an honored last resting place or a national monument without feelings of loss, of love, of deep appreciation. Without thoughts about lives denied.
On this day we pay tribute to our military of days gone by, to those who are in harm’s way today, and to those of today who have paid the highest price. I can’t begin to know the anguish of parents and spouses and children, those who wait at home. I cannot begin to know the courage, the determination, the fear, the sacrifice of those on military assignment around the world.
But I can respect and honor them.
Recently, I was part of a program called “Reflections.” In it, artists submitted work and writers chose one of the pieces of art to write about. When I saw the painting below, I had no idea of the artist’s concept. I was drawn to several things. To the young man’s eyes. To what perhaps is the yearning or remembering in them, to the loss or hurt. To what seems to be a military uniform. To wondering about what he had done, what he had seen. To the birds. A good sign, a bad omen?
We each bring our own experiences and ideas to a painting. We each see and are touched by something different. That is the beauty and enduring gift of art. What do you see? What would you write? Below is what I saw and wrote.
Morning skies illuminate
a wistful face, reveal eyes
haunted by memories
destined not to fade.
Gone is the laughter,
gone is the innocence.
Faces of men
wander his mind,
faces of those he lost.
Harbingers of hope
mourn the emptiness within,
seek to calm his world forever changed,
to bring him peace.
by Carol Mann 2017
As I participate in Memorial Day celebrations and activities, I’ll hold dear the sacrifices of our military and their families.
Memorial Day in my family is also a day to remember family and friends who have passed. Mothers, fathers, husbands, wives. Family. My husband and I always went to the graves of his parents sometime during the Memorial Day period until we moved out of the area and could no longer do so. He tended the sites. Pulled away grass and weeds, brushed the detritus from the marble markers, placed fresh flowers in the sunken urns. He’d talk to them a bit. I did, too. Simply a quiet moment of remembrance.
Whatever your tradition, I wish you an inspired Memorial Day as you honor the sacrifice of the men and women who serve.
A footnote – the commissioned portrait in the blog is of Frederick Sleight, who became an anthropologist and later Executive Director of the Palm Springs Art Museum. He oversaw the transition of the Desert Museum, founded in 1938, to that of the PS Art Museum.