Zizly’s Powerful Memorial Day Tradition
My husband is a veteran who lost one of his brothers while serving in Afghanistan. It goes without saying, that for us, Memorial Day means more than a three-day weekend with barbeques. In our house, Memorial Day is a somber occasion where my husband remembers saying goodbye to his buddy, Kevin. While we try to honor Kevin's memory throughout the year, we decided to start a new tradition last year that would allow us to remember Kevin, and also honor fallen heroes we never had the opportunity to know.
First, my bonus daughter and I went out to find some natural rocks. We only meant to grab a few, but we ended up finding 20 rocks and brought them all home. Then it was time to raid the craft closet to get all of our paints and brushes organized. Together, we painted rocks and wrote special messages for -what the little referred to as- "the soldiers who died for us."
I wasn't sure where, or even if, there was a Veteran's Cemetery in the Treasure Valley, but luckily I saw someone post on Facebook about a special Memorial Day ceremony at Idaho State Veterans Cemetery in Boise. So we made the trip. When we got there, we could could see American flags for what looked like miles on the graves of all of those who served. It was beautiful.
We started walking around looking for headstones to place our little "Thank You" rocks on. The little started to read a headstone that said "Unknown." When we explained that there were some soldiers that were buried there that couldn't be identified and didn't have a family to honor them, she didn't even hesitate. She grabbed a rock, set it down and said, "they deserve one."
So, on we went reading names, ranks, wars they served in, their birth dates...all while explaining to the little about the history of the wars and answering questions she had. My husband is an infantryman, and happened to find what he referred to as "a founding father" (a fellow infantryman that came before him." He cleaned off the headstone, tidied up the flowers, and placed a rock down. It was emotional.
We kept going. Placing more rocks down. Then we came across one soldier's headstone that made me choke up. It was a man that served in WWII, he died at 30 years young. See, I'm just 9 months shy of the 30-year milestone. It hit me hard. We set down all the rocks and were glad we went crazy, in, fact, we wished we'd made more.
After an already powerful afternoon, something happened that made us realize that this tradition we'd just started meant more than we knew. We got in the car, what broke the silence was her little voice from the backseat, "Wow, just wow. I didn't know it was going to feel like that."