I feel fortunate that my daughters have not been touched by the pain and loss of war.
My children are sheltered. Safe. Quietly tucked away in suburbia.
It’s Memorial Day 2012 and I ponder how to explain the importance of this holiday to my daughters.
Teach them an appreciation for the people who fight, sacrifice, and die for our country.
So, I decide to take them to the Golden Gate National Cemetery.
It is massive. Rolling hills of grass and stone. More than 116,000 lives now gone.
There is irony in the unexpected beauty, serenity, and peace of this place.
The girls are fascinated with the thousands of waving flags. Each flag carefully placed by a local a Boy Scout.
It is a windy day, so the waving is urgent and strong. Tiny stars and stripes telling us to pay attention.
I caution the girls to carefully walk around the grave stones. To only look at the flowers.
But they are children and there is joy in running through the long rows of carefully manicured grass. Admiring the flowers. Gently touching the flags.
I tell them both grandfathers served in the military. Bright eyes interested in the story I share.
As we round the corner, we hear bagpipes. Reeds vibrating with each breath. Crisp notes of the military band playing.
We watch a small parade. Sharply dressed soldiers. Drumbeat of marching boots.
A prayer is said. A reminder of who has been lost.
Old and young mingling; crossing time together. Shared experiences covering different decades, different wars.
I’m glad we came to this place. I’m grateful we were part of this rememberance.
I have hope.
Hope that we can stop filling these landmarks with sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers.
Hope for a planet without war. Hope for compassion and cooperation. Hope that love will win.
I metaphorically drop a coin in the wishing well. Cross my fingers. Blow dandelion seeds into the wind.
But for now, it’s important to understand where we’ve been and honor those who have protected us in the past and present.
All while working towards the promise of a peaceful tomorrow.
Photography by Megan Maxwell-Bey