A Wreath at the End of the Road
The wreaths are laid today
By hundreds of unbelievable volunteers,
Upon endless pure white headstones,
Standard for Privates or five-star Admirals.
They cannot hear a bugle signaling
More heroes, from Bull Run to Baghdad.
They cannot see horses retreating from
A fresh wound in our most-hallowed ground.
But I can hear
Their voices, whispering up through red ribbons
And green boughs, “Duty, Honor, Country,
Our beautiful Freedoms are never free."
~ R.F.McCusker, 2007
Arlington National Cemetery,
one of 200 national cemeteries,
has received 260,000 dead since 1864,
including 367 Medal of Honor recipients.
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
~ Ms. Moina Michael, 1915
'Life is not one damn thing after another.
It is the same damn thing over and over.'
~ Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)
* * * * *
As we visit their graves this Memorial Day, try to visualize the lives of our parents, grand parents and great-grand parents, before, during the Great Depression and WII decades.
Electricity, indoor plumbing, hot running water, gas heat and air conditioning were not birthrights in the 20th century.
Then, count your blessings.
Images from those days below:
Life wasn't all bad before cell phones and Facebook. No hint of obesity on these free-range boys. Marijuana? Never. However, they may have smoked some dried corn silk down by this Louisiana bayou. Indeed, they may even have been fishing without a license.
1942: Imagine building your own dugout in New Mexico, without a 30-year mortgage. Then growing your own food, and never driving an SUV to the supermarket or using an ATM.
Supper time in the same 1942 dugout None of it frozen. Note the plate of home made biscuits sitting on a can of Karo syrup, which was perhaps cheaper than honey.
1943 Clinton, Iowa lunch break: Women took over some maintenance jobs in the round house for the Chicago & Northwestern RR due to WWII lack of manpower.
1940: Surplus fruit distributed in St. John's, Arizona.
In parts of California's Central Valley today, the majority of customers at the super market use welfare debit cards, while their late model cars await in the parking lot. 46.5 million Americans used Food Stamps in 2014, 14% of the population.
[Library of Congress images]
1938: Memorial Day Waterloo, Iowa: Free-range McCuskers.
Left to right: Mary Agnes, 5, Bobby, 3, (your Follies editor), Juannetta (neighbor girl), Billy, 7. Bill's knees look like patches on top of patches.
Juannetta has shoes on. We were so poor, we were all born bare-footed..
'It wouldn't be Friday without the Follies.'