Memorial Day 2020
This Memorial Day I will be playing the bagpipes at our local cemetery, as I have done for many years, with the exception of last year when my right hand was incapacitated by a stroke. Therefore, for me personally and for all of us who have been sheltering-in-place all these weeks, it feels good to resume a simple act of gratitude. There seldom are crowds at the cemetery when I play and spacing is always respectful on this day, so I am resuming this tradition of thanks to those who have given their lives for all of us, so that we could maintain our everyday-way-of-life, however that may look at this time.
My fingerwork on the chanter, the main note-playing pipe, is still far from perfect, and it may never be the same. But it is good enough to play “Amazing Grace” and “Taps” for those who have fallen. I will give my best to the memory of America’s best on Monday, however imperfect my best may now be.
We have a new group of The Best who now need to be remembered for their sacrifice. These are the health care and essential workers who, in putting their lives on the line to keep us safe and care for those who have fallen ill, have themselves perished. I will take a minute of silence to remember those whose uniforms were surgical scrubs, lab coats, police badges, firefighter and paramedic boots, grocery clerk and stocker aprons, delivery togs and farming blue jeans. As I stand playing the pipes next to my father-in-law’s grave, a man who saw while wearing a Navy uniform, Pearl Harbor being bombed, I will remember all of these brave people, all of them, with a simple tune followed by a minute of silence. One minute now, but a lifetime of never forgetting.
Awe begin to resume our busy lives, let us use all of their examples of sacrifice to allow us to do the right thig so that we do not ask even more sacrifice of our health care and essential workers. Social distancing, wearing face coverings, washing hands, observing best-practices for health department guidelines means we are not just being polite or considerate, we are also acknowledging that we owe their safety to our own behavior.
So on this Memorial Day, let us indeed remember and let us dedicate ourselves to the safety of others in a new expression of gratitude to all of those to whom we owe so much.
Greg La Follette