Today is a special day, though most people won't know it. It's a national holiday that no one expects off, a birthday that only a select few will remember.
Last month Americans celebrated Memorial Day with picnics, swimming, or maybe a parade and visiting a veterans' cemetery. My children celebrated differently from the norm thanks to the Blizzard of '09, the Blizzard of '09 II, the Blizzard of '10, and the Blizzard of '10 II and III. (Actually, all of that runs together now in a haze of white, grimey plowbanks, and water-logged mittens. They missed weeks of school, we do know that). Because of the [*cough*pain-in-the-neck...and back...and fingers and toes*cough*] snow, the kids celebrated Memorial Day in school. Some of the local residents thought this tantamount to sacrilege, children missing out on a day to sleep in and watch cartoons before pigging out at a barbecue. I'd have to beg to differ with them. Our school has always been an extremely patriotic and supportive school, so it was no surprise that a month or more before Memorial Day, the kids were chattering about wearing red, white, and blue ("Don't forget, Mom, I have to wear that on Memorial Day!" "Oh, no, hon, I won't forget in four weeks. Got it!" ) and singing their favorite songs from the Veteran's Day program last fall. A personal favorite: "A-M-E-R-I-C-A." Until the little man had sung it ten times in a row, several days in a row...then the little lady threw in the towel and howled for mercy. After she had the little man on the floor, howling for mercy. But I digress.
On Memorial Day, they trouped onto the bus to attend school on a national holiday. I didn't mind, though. They talked about sacrifices made on shores far away. They learned that Memorial Day was more than just another day off, or the opening to summer, or the day to finally get in the pool. They learned that it is different from Veterans Day. Even though my children are Army brats, I don't think those are things that they can be reminded of too often. Thankfully, the kids' school thinks so as well. So rather than have another regular class on a snow make-up day, they remembered. They honored. They appreciated. And they enjoyed it, knowing that this day was still special. I thank our school faculty and staff for making it such a wonderful learning experience for them.
Today's lesser remembered holiday had me mulling this over again. Some people choose especially to fly their flags on Flag Day...I know I grew up in a family where the flag was flown on three days: Memorial Day, Flag Day, and the Fourth of July. I think it meant more in a way, bringing the flag from the coat closet and listening to the fabric rustle with purpose as we hung it. I'd gaze on the plastic eagle at the top of the pole and feel proud to be an American. Flag Day wasn't a picnic day like Memorial Day or the Fourth of July, and we didn't spend all day talking about how the flag was designed and how many metamorphoses it has been through over the past two hundred-plus years--but it was a day for the flag, and only the flag. That made it special.
This year, though, the flag shares its day. Today is also a pretty special birthday...
So happy birthday to the Army, and every face that makes it strong. Happy adoption day to the Flag for which they stand and fight. And hey, everybody...since it's a birthday, maybe a cookout tonight? I'm thinking a green cake with 235 candles...outside, on the deck...with a waterhose at the ready. After all, it wouldn't be a celebration without some fireworks.