Memorial weekend is one of my favorite holidays. After my family, my real passions have always been firearms and racing cars. In fact, racers were the first mechanical items that captured my imagination and the Indy 500 has been a part of my life for nearly 60 years.
My family always spent the Memorial weekend camping on our favorite creek, first with tents and tarps, then we upgraded to a camp trailer. On more than one holiday outing we awakened to a foot of heavy wet snow; but that didn’t dampen our enthusiasm for having fun. We went fishing, did a little plinking with our 22s, ate lots of junk, drank lots of Shasta soda, and I always listened to Sid Collins, the voice of the “500”, describe the “greatest spectacle in racing” on a scratchy car radio. It was really a wondrous time for a young boy with a penchant for speed. And always my dad, a WWII Army Air Force veteran, made sure we understood and appreciated the sacrifices of those who never came home and the loss suffered by the families left behind.
Today, my ritual will be nearly the same as always. I rise around 4 AM, slug down some coffee and begin enjoying the day’s annual racing rituals. I’ll ignore the phone, and also probably my wife; fortunately she understands and tolerates my passions. Too much junk food and maybe a couple of beers to wash it down is the only menu I’m interested in. When the last checkered flag falls, it will be off to bed with great appreciation for another sweet weekend and a renewed anticipation for next year.
Tomorrow will be more sober. I’ll go to the cemetery and visit the resting places of family and friends, many who left a long time ago, and a few who just recently passed. I also pay attention to those graves adorned with little American flags; I’ll thank them in my own way for all they have given to me; although my gratitude pales in comparison to their sacrifice.
Then maybe I’ll wet a fly line, or shoot one of my guns, or maybe just watch my pup Archie play. But I will once again remember what an old Air Corps Sargent taught me; one must always remember what it means to be an American and never take for granted the sacrifice of all those who died for us.
Be safe and good shooting.