Saturday, May 28, 2011

Honoring Memorial Day

Snatch a glance out the window. Children are running and scurrying everywhere. The joy and freedom of youth is evident in the scribbles of sidewalk chalk, the shouts that ring out, "Not it!" and the sudden fever pitch reached when the ice cream truck's music is heard coming down the street. As the school year trends into summer vacation, the level of anticipation is almost palpable.

Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of this summer mindset with picnics and barbecues, pools opening and the onset of night sky fireworks. Sometimes the festivities ensue without even a thought for the meaning of the day. Something substantial is celebrated that must never be forgotten -- the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform for the cause of freedom.

First celebrated in 1868 to honor the fallen soldiers from both the Union and Confederate armies, Memorial Day is a reminder of the price of freedom. When liberty is challenged, men and women of courage and character rise to the occasion to defend her. Conviction such as this has inspired poems, music and patriotic tributes over the centuries.

Because the realities of war have become less and less personal, especially when fought on foreign soil, the meaning of the day is losing its proper perspective. Without perhaps more than a passing thought for the men and women in the military risking their lives on a daily basis to ensure the nation's security, the ability to have that barbecue or take that extra day off from work, the day becomes just part of another long weekend.
Where have all the parades gone with their flag waving, band playing, American Legion marching and cheering throngs of cotton candy consuming crowds?

Some venues in Northern Virginia still offer the small town patriotic parade type atmosphere to commemorate the day:
Viva Vienna
May 28-30, 2011. Vienna, Virginia celebrates with a community festival including food, crafts, music, carnival rides and a Memorial Day tribute.

Wolf Trap Farm Park
Sunday, May 29, 2011, 8:00 p.m. Summer Blast Off! "The President's Own". The park for performing arts kicks off the summer season with a free performance by the U.S. Marine Band followed by fireworks. The Filene Center gates open at 6:30 p.m. Arrive early because the park closes once capacity is reached.

Sunset Celebration at Mount Vernon
May 27-29, 2011, 6-9 p.m. New family-friendly event! Enjoy evening tours of the Mansion, 18th-century music, dancing, games, and wagon rides. Stroll the lantern-lit grounds and visit with Lady Washington and her granddaughter Nelly. Admission: Adults, $18; children 6-11, $12; and children under 5 are admitted free.

Fort Ward Park, Alexandria, Virginia
Monday, May 30, 2011, 1-7 p.m. The annual Memorial Day Jazz Festival features big band, swing, and contemporary jazz music. Picnics are allowed and food and beverages will also be for sale. In case of inclement weather, the festival will be relocated to the Lee Center's Kauffman Auditorium, 1108 Jefferson St. Admission is free.

Falls Church Memorial Day Parade
Monday May 30, 2011, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The City of Falls Church, Virginia celebrates Memorial Day with a festival featuring pony rides, arts and crafts booths, live entertainment, food and a community parade.
But perhaps one of the most important tributes one can offer this Memorial Day is a visit to Church. In the celebration of the Mass, Catholics offer prayers for those who have gone before them. On Memorial Day, prayers will be offered specifically for those who have paid the ultimate price with their lives. The Prayers of the Faithful will also include intentions for those who currently serve at home and overseas.
The Diocese of Arlington will offer a special Memorial Day Mass:
Memorial Day Mass
When: Mon, May 30, 11am – 12pm
Where: Fairfax Memorial Park, 9900 Braddock Road, Fairfax, Virginia 22032
Rain location: Holy Spirit Parish, Annandale
Description: Mass will honor those who have served their country.
Visit the Diocese of Arlington website for more information on Mass schedules at local parishes.

In celebrating Memorial Day, remember to first thank God for all the many blessings you have received through the selfless sacrifices made by the dedicated members of the military. They fight and defend so that Americans can live and worship as they will.

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