The men represented in the numerous New England Civil War monuments died more than a hundred years before my post World War II baby-boomer generation was born. Often the names on the plaques don't sound familiar to me as there aren't streets or buildings in their honor. Although the importance of the war is still taught in American History classes, it seems the destruction and personal consequences have all but been forgotten.
The names on the Spanish-American War, World War I, II, Korea and Vietnam monuments match some of the surnames we hear every day, but sadly, their significance too fades with each passing generation. And even though the importance of these wars are also being taught, the direct connection and resulting loss will follow the others and be forgotten.
Last week, as the Costen and Lengenfelder families planted the red, white and blue flowers in the Webster Court of Honor, I once again looked at the faces of the statues and questioned if their sacrifice was worth the price they paid. I wondered if any of the hundreds or thousands of people who pass by this monument every day really care that once this sailor or soldier had a family - a life - and he voluntarily gave it so that millions of African-Americans could live a life free of slavery.
I wondered too if those same people driving by look at the Court of Honor or any of the other New England monuments and think about the men and women who gave their lives so that we as Americans could live in a country that holds the freedom of speech to be one of the most important rights a citizen can depend upon from their government.
Do those people think about what our country would be like today if Hitler and the Nazi Party had won WWII? What rights would we have now if the Communist Party had spread across America? Where will life in this country be like in another hundred years if our sons and daughters weren't fighting right now against terrorists and those who would like nothing better than to destroy the very country that was built on the foundation of religious freedom and the right to pursue happiness.
As I sat on the bench next to the Gold Star Mother monument Friday evening watering the 360 bright yellow marigolds donated by Webster Nursery, I wondered if anyone driving or walking by knew the significance of the gold star.
"Does anyone know that while the people behind the statues and the names on the plaques may have lost their lives, a Gold Star Mother loses her heart and has to continue on living as though nothing changed," I cried to my husband Mike. "Does anyone know that this simple yellow star represents a special group that no other mother on earth wants to join?"
Wiping my tears, I took one last look at the statues in the Court of Honor. "Do they know we remember?" I asked Mike. "I think they do," he replied. "But more importantly, as long as there are people who visit the Court of Honor, or any of the other monuments, they'll be remembered. As long as there are parades and people who stop and think about Memorial Day as the day to remember those who gave their life so we could live in a country that holds personal freedom as the most important right any human being can have, they'll not be forgotten," he added.
Still not convinced, I awoke on Monday morning making plans for the family to attend the parade. "I don't know why you want to get there so early, people don't care and there won't be anyone to watch the parade," I said.
The chairs were covering the sidewalks from Cranston corner at Thompson Ave. and East Main Street to Town Hall. Families, children and grandparents - the post World War II baby boomer generation waved at the bands, fire trucks and youth groups walked by. American flags waved from porches, street poles and buildings as the parade moved toward Town Hall and the Court of Honor.
"I guess they're not forgotten," I said as we placed a simple "Thank You" flag in the Court of Honor. "I just wish everyone thought of Memorial Day for the reason it was invented... to honor those who gave their life to defend our country and not the first official cook-out of summer."
"So do I," Mike said as we drove by the packed parking lot at Price Chopper.
- Wednesday, 30 May 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Ginger Costen's From This Corner