|©Mary Montague Sikes|
This is a day to remember the fallen heroes who fought to save the freedom Americans enjoy every day. For many years, I took Memorial Day for granted. It was a time of disruption from our daily schedule in elementary school and high school. The children usually were transported somewhere to hear speeches that meant little to them or to me at the time. It was a holiday less celebrated then than now. We didn't have the day off from school.
A few years later, Memorial Day became the start of summer for me. I fell in love with tennis, and it was the beginning of tennis season at the club where I played. I was one of the most fanatical players, running on the courts all morning while our children swam in the pool, going home to fix lunch, and returning with my husband in the evening for more matches. It was a crazy time when I spent more hours mopping rain water from the courts than sweeping dirt from our steps at home. Tennis was really popular then, so there was usually a wait time to get on the courts.
Time moves on.
Listening to the sermon in church yesterday, I realized more than ever before the importance of our fallen heroes, especially the young sailor who died on a ship off the Philippine Islands during World War II. He was the patriotic serviceman for whom Kirby Street in our little town of West Point, Virginia is named. His sacrifice made me understand more than ever why we used to salute the flags in our school classrooms and why we stand today, hand over our hearts, for the National Anthem.
I don't have time now to practice long hours to play competitive tennis. I miss it and remember the fun we had every year on Memorial Day. I look at the photograph on Facebook of the two children hugging the tombstone of their fallen soldier hero father. And I remember the true meaning of this day. I'm proud to be an American, and I am happy to be free thanks to our fallen heroes.