I cannot believe that it's been nearly three months since I posted--maybe this is a sign of healing? We had a longer than average winter, what with snow late in March on the day I was supposed to go to Ft. Meade to take part in a dedication ceremony for a medical facility but something about the four inches of slippery wet snow, not to mention the fact that the ceremony was to be in a tent while the temperatures hovered around freezing . . . . anyway, I bailed as did almost everyone else. My sister was visiting and I couldn't see making her tromp around Ft. Meade in the snow, particularly as I was not that sure about where I was going.
Which brings me to the one thing about Ft. Meade. The Maryland Gold Star Mothers meet there every other month. I find it hard (emotionally) to enter the fort but I do it and over the last couple of years I've gotten used to the routine. Except our most recent meeting, this last Saturday, happened to be a day when protesters were expected so they closed the main gate from Rte 175, the gate we normally use. I couldn't quite believe they would do that, especially since I had not heard anything about it, so I drove there anyway, only to find it blocked off. So I turned left instead of right in order to go back to the gate that really was open and was immediately stopped by the MPs. I ended up having to keep going east in order to find somewhere that would let me turn around and head west again . . . I was a wreck and I only saw two protesters anyway. Getting through the new gate meant having my car thoroughly inspected, including the mirror under the car technique and while a soldier with a very big gun looked on. I was nearly in tears by now but I did get through the process, they gave me good directions and in the end I was only 30 minutes late to the meeting. Everyone else was late too so we started 40 minutes late.
Our secretary was away so I got to take minutes which I'm still turning into something readable. Sadly, our founding president, Carol Roddy, has just been put into hospice care and news of her condition hung over us as we started. I will say that many of the Gold Star parents seem to have suffered serious health problems at an earlier age than one might expect. I am sure that the shock of loss and the continued grief have a lot to do with this. I will be praying for Carol and her family in the days to come.
And all of that without even mentioning Memorial Day! This year, more than usual, people noticed that veterans were being honored but the fallen were kind of forgotten. Now I have said often that I don't mind the picnics and sales: Memorial Day started as Decoration Day which involved picnicking among the tombstones you were taking care of--sort of having lunch with the dead I guess. And Thomas loved shopping for some reason so sales seem appropriate. But in all of that, you need to remember why we have this day. Our Memorial Day barbeque involved close friends and a toast to the fallen and especially to Thomas. We flew our flag. We went to Mass at Gate of Heaven and visited Thomas's grave. But mostly, we remembered. We finally got Thomas's picture drawn by Michael Reagan (3rd cousin to the president!) and it came back to us framed before Memorial Day. I was asked to write a blog entry for Serving Together, a program that's grown out of the Veterans Collaborative. I will try to link to it here.