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Editor’s Notebook

by Gila Hayes

As this month’s journal goes to our eagle-eyed VP Vincent Shuck for a thorough proofreading, we are closing the office (though charging up the Network cell phone for emergencies) and heading to the Idaho panhandle to visit my mother-in-law over Memorial Day weekend. A few days rest is just what the doctor ordered, and I’m anticipating three days away from the pressures of operating two very active businesses, and wrapping up the final edit of my latest book, Concealed Carry for Women, published by Gun Digest Books who also published my 2009 book, Personal Defense for Women.

Finishing this book has felt like fighting the mythical undead. Every time I think my work on it is finished, just one more detail pops up. I hope it will remain finished this time! Of course, in this day and age, authors are also on the hook to promote their own books, so the reprieve lasts only until the end of September, when I have to crank up the publicity machine.

Getting back to my earlier train of thought, though, I hope you had a nice Memorial Day. A friend recently quoted this very apt reminder: Memorial Day is not national barbecue day. It is a day set aside to remember those who died fighting for the United States of America.

My mother and grandmother used to call this holiday “Decoration Day,” which made sense, because our family trooped en masse to clean up the winter’s detritus strewn over the graves at the rural cemetery where ancestors were buried beneath the thick western yellow pine trees that forested the foothills. I doubt I’ll ever forget the scent those pines put off in warm weather or the perfume of my grandmother’s peonies arranged on the graves. Of the grandfathers and uncles, great grandfathers and great uncles in that cemetery, most if not all were veterans, and their military service was commemorated on their grave markers.

Decoration Day began when General John A. Logan of the Northern Civil War veterans proposed that on May 30, 1862, the day should be used to lay flowers on the graves of those who “died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.” (Gen. Logan might not have been impressed by us, though, in light of my father’s family some of whom were said to be related to Jefferson Davis’ wife whom, indeed, my grandmother greatly resembled. In any case, Northerners and Southerners could always find an argument and apparently even disagree if Memorial Day started in the North or the South.)

After World War I, Memorial Day grew into a commemoration of American soldiers killed in all the wars, and in 1968 Congress set aside the last Monday in May as a national day of remembrance. We should not forget the reason they set aside Memorial Day, though doing so is far too easy.

World War II was rarely mentioned at home and the actions of America’s heroic armed forces were seldom spoken of in my family home. Still, World War II had irrevocably touched my family. My father, disabled by a congenital heart condition, served in a medical unit in England during the air raids, but was not sent to the Continenent. My mother had been engaged to another man who died of injuries suffered during a bad turn of the Battle of the Bulge, among the last in his unit to fall back so he could oversee the transport of his men to a safer position. Now, these many years later, seems odd to me that we knew so little of what these and others did in defense of our way of life.

Gen. Logan understood our tendency to forget, and in directing that soldiers’ graves should be cleaned and decorated with flowers, he urged, “Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

Memorial Day 2013 is over. While I hope each of our members had a relaxing weekend, I also hope you took a few minutes to think about the soldiers who died defending our country and the freedoms we enjoy because they fought. Let their sacrifices be honored in your actions, and as Pericles said in tribute to fallen warriors of his time, cultivate “an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men.”

[End of June 2013 eJournal.
Please return next month for our July edition.]