As Memorial Day approached, I made a phone call to the Eden Prairie Cemetery to leave a voicemail congratulating and thanking the Board for the lush, beautiful lawns, grounds improvements and gravestone decorations.
Caretakers and grounds keepers have made many noticeable and much appreciated extra efforts preparing for Memorial Day visitors. And I also recognize that you, or a family member, may be decorating the graves of loved ones buried there, or in other cemeteries.
To all these, I say “Thank You” as well.
Memorial Day, also known as Decoration Day, is on May 31. It seldom landed on a 3-day weekend when I was young. In those days, school was out before then and we were happy to be busy in the fields cultivating corn or cutting alfalfa hay.
At noon we’d park our tractors, wash up for dinner and change into ‘church clothes’. We’d prepare for the afternoon Decoration Day Services at the Spring Garden Lutheran Church in rural Cannon Falls, Minnesota. I sang in the Junior Choir, dressed in white robes. Then, we’d lead the procession from the chancel down the aisle and out around the American Elm tree. The tree had a dedication plaque in front. There we sang again.
The reading of the names of soldiers who died in service of the country from the church community buried in the cemetery followed. It was a patriotic and spiritual experience. It lingers in my memory when Memorial Day, as we call it now, comes around each year.
Decades later, we appreciate the sacred beauty and healing solitude of cemeteries. My family members are buried in Oronoco, Pine Island, Wanamingo, Cannon Falls and Fort Snelling. Visits to these cemeteries are loving and grateful annual pilgrimages. God uses these pilgrimages to bring-to-mind the importance of ‘remembering…to never forget’!
In Eden Prairie, we are fortunate that we have one more important stop to make at the Eden Prairie Veterans Memorial in Purgatory Creek Park at Prairie Center and Technology Drives. There the names of the community’s veterans and war dead are engraved. Beautiful statues make strong artistic statements marking the realities of War (inscription – ‘All Gave Some! Some Gave All’) and the everlasting vigilance preserving Peace (inscription – ‘Imagine World Peace!’).
The May 31, Eden Prairie Annual Memorial Day Ceremony is at 11am on what used to be called Decoration Day. It celebrates and honors the great contributions of outstanding veterans with community speakers, patriotic music, and the posting of the colors by the Eden Prairie Police Honor Guard.
If you can’t make the 11 am ceremony because of travel or other schedules, please take some time to visit any cemetery near wherever you might be to say “Thank You” out loud. Say it to those who are buried there and for those who are caretakers of these important places. Say it for the beauty of springtime and the sacred solitude healing the pains of sorrow and heartache.
Two of many other inscriptions at the EP Veterans Memorial:
‘Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty’ – Thomas Jefferson
‘When You find Peace Within You Become the Person Who can Live in Peace with Others’ – Peace Pilgrim-‘Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty’