I Put Flowers On Strangers' Graves
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Politics and Activism

I Put Flowers On Strangers' Graves

"On Memorial Day, I don't want to only remember the combatants. There were also those who came out of the trenches as writers and poets, who started preaching peace, men and women who have made this world a kinder place to live." —Eric Burdon

I Put Flowers On Strangers' Graves

We remember. As humans we remember a lifetime worth of events, people, relationships, successes, and failures. We too remember the loss of loved ones. In fact, it is these losses that are often recalled in vivid detail. I want you to recall the first time you lost someone you loved; remember the sting, the drop you felt in your stomach. I will posit that you have someone to remember this Memorial Day.

To reference the title, I put flowers on strangers' grave. I am going to share my perception of this holiday. Through revealing how I recognize Memorial Day I want to highlight a fundamental problem that exists within this holiday.

As memorial day is just around the corner, it is custom for people to decorate graves. To me, this holiday is a time to remember not only soldiers but anyone who has passed that has touched your life. When I was younger I did not see the point of visiting graves. This year was the first time I visited graves. My granny and I took to half a dozen different cemeteries and decorated what seemed like 50 graves! It truly was life changing experience.

We started off going to the graves of family members that I knew. We made an emotional stop at my grandfather's grave which I assumed was the end of the tour. This was actually the first leg of many in our Memorial Day excursion. At one point I asked why we were doing this. Granny looked at me and said," I am not really sure. It is something I have always done. I stop at these strangers' graves because it was important to my dad so I just keep it going."

With her explanation came stories. Every time I put a flower down, every grave we visited, I was presented with a name and a story. I paid tribute to mothers who died of cancer, babies who never made it out of infancy, and soldiers who defended America's freedom. I came to realize that the tradition was more than a monotonous practice. I found out that there was a deep meaning in honoring the lives of people who went before me. It gave me peace; hope that one day, a hundred years from now, someone will hear the legacies I heard on this day.

THE PUNCHLINE: As I am entering adulthood, I find that the world is apathetic. Too many people are disrespectful and refuse to observe tradition. It took only one afternoon of visiting the graves of total strangers to appreciate the life I have and this simple observation of life itself. One afternoon showed me the value of appreciating the loved ones I have. The beautiful gesture of honoring the dead, soldier or non, is dying out if you ask me. It is truly a shame. Visiting the resting place of people who were once a part of your life is one of the purest reminders of humanity and humility there is, and so many people are missing out.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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