This memorial day weekend my sisters, my wife and myself made the round to all of the local cemeteries where our relatives are buried. Since my retirement and relocation back "home" we are now able to do this each year. We do this to put flowers on the graves of our deceased family members. We also do this because that is what our parents taught us to do.
Memorial Day holds many fond memories for me. Around the age of 10 or 11 my father, James Varner, began taking me along each year to put the small flags on the graves of the military veterans. We did between six and eight small cemeteries. Usually our group included my father and uncle, James and Elvie Varner, and a good friend Reuben Bryant.
Thursday or Friday before memorial weekend we would go to each cemetery meeting two or three others there that helped us place the flags. The flags would be placed in small round aluminum tubes (usually broken TV antenna's) that had been painted with red, white and blue stripes. One person "ran the book" checking off the names as we went to make sure that no veteran was missed. This was generally a fairly long day and my memory is that most of these days were rainy and chilly.
After Memorial Day we would go back to each cemetery to pickup the holders and flags. These had to be saved to use again the next year. Over the fall or winter the holders would be repainted as needed and the old faded or torn flags disposed of and new replacements obtained.
As I got older we had to manage around my work schedule if I was able to be there to help. I missed the four years I was in the Air Force. After many years we turned over all of the cemeteries to other volunteer's. My father, uncle and Reuben were no longer able and due to my employment I had to relocate to a distant state.
To me Memorial Day is much more than remembering our veterans. It is also about remembering and recognizing our family members that have gone before us. After all, if not for them there would have been no me.