Doing so on this day in particular came about after that great bloody scar on the national psyche, the Civil War. It was something of a rite of healing as well as recognition of the great and terrible sacrifice -- and maybe that sounds New Agey to you, too touchy-feely. Tough. There's little enough we can do for the dead -- clear their markers, set a flag, ponder soberly -- but there's plenty we can do to help secure what their sacrifices were in aid of: we can comfort the living, treat one another fairly and recognize that in the end, we will all face the same Great Unknown.
We can refuse to be jerks.
Other people fight other battles. My Mom, born in the shadow of Black Friday, is in the hospital fighting one right now. She will win this battle; there's fluid in her lungs and the doctors and nurses are clearing it away. It will come back, by and by, and she'll be in the hospital again.
She'll win most of the battles, but in a war that we all will eventually lose. And there's not a single blamed thing I can do about it other than show up, say hi, share a card, some flowers, an entertaining gadget, trivial little bright sparkles. My Mom fights; it's in her. She doesn't give up.
Eleven years, one week and two days ago, my Dad passed away. It was Mom's birthday. I miss him. She misses him, too.
Today was my birthday. Tam and I went to brunch. It was delicious. Little bright sparkles -- maybe that's all we get. Maybe that's all anyone gets. Make the most of them. Don't stomp on anyone else's.