Around the Bluhmin' Town: Appreciate everything we have year-round

Did you enjoy this past Memorial Day weekend? The beginning of summer, the remembrance of those who have died in this nation’s wars. Flags flying, memorial services, family gatherings, three-day weekends, bagpipes playing… what better way to start off the summer!

That’s right, I said “bagpipes playing,’ because nothing quite evokes such deep emotion and dignity than listening to pipers play at a Memorial Day ceremony.

On a side note, where exactly did the bagpipes originate? Scotland? Not even close! It seems these bags of winds have been around for more than 4,000 years, starting in Egypt.

Eventually the pipes traveled to Greece and then Rome. The Roman army went on to take the pipes to the countries of the West as they invaded them. The use of the instrument was soon spread throughout Europe. It is believed that the Irish introduced the bagpipes to the Scots, a little-known fact that my husband (who was born and raised in Scotland) strongly disputes.

Well, legend has it that an Irishman handed a Scotsman a bagpipe and the rest is history. The Scots have improved the music and perfected the instrument. The bagpipes, with their mournful sound, have a long historical association with U.S. military funerals.

The Memorial Day weekend is too important to not go out and pay tribute to our fallen heroes. This holiday represents the larger portrait of Americana; the reminder that freedom is never free and that as far as sacrifices go, some gave all. I recall going to the veterans cemetery as a child, standing before a sea of tiny flags that waved briskly in the breeze, each standing at attention at the base of a flat gravestone.

I would run around and try and read as many names as I could, wondering how they died, figuring out how old the soldier was, reading the words scrawled on the headstones. Round wreaths, looking like sad, little life preservers, were placed on numerous graves.

Then there would be the lady who could be seen sitting in a lawn chair on her son’s grave, or the child who would bring hand-drawn pictures to a gravesite, bravely saluting a parent he might never had known.

Loved ones gather, children run or skip on grassy knolls, bagpipers and a drummer in the distance playing the solemn hymn “Going Home.” The stark contrast of the hope of a spring day, with flowers blooming, birds singing and flags flying, set against the backdrop of broken hearts and bagpipes playing, is the snapshot of this holiday.

Memorial Day weekend reminds us to remember. It causes us to take a moment from the barbecuing with friends and family, the leisurely three-day get-aways, to recall those fallen comrades and all that they stood for and left behind. Summer is officially here — ushered in by a very memorable weekend. It helps us put everything in perspective, allows us to ponder the bigger world issues at hand, makes us reflect on our country and appreciate all that we take for granted. It’s good not to forget.