Yesterday at church they played TAPS (click “TAPS” to hear it) at church. Every Memorial Day they do this. And each of the current military and veterans stand and state their branch of service and they are applauded and appreciated as they should be.
I never really knew the day as much more than that or just a memorial to those that have died until I started attending this church 10 years ago. Usually in my family it was about grilling out or going to place flowers on (great) grandma and (great) grandpa’s grave. When actually it isn’t about either of those things. It has evolved to those this things.
But this year is different because of all the work I did on genealogy in the last year. When TAPS started playing yesterday immediately I teared up. I begin thinking, “Man, I am such a mush.” Then I realized it was more about the sacrifices my family made to be an American.
I said time and time again in my family literacy research that my family fled Bohemia (Czech Republic today) because of religious persecution. When they came here and struggled to find identities and who they were it was so very different than the identity I struggle to find on my blog. My sufferings, loss and hardship can’t come close to with the sufferings, loss and hardship they had to under go.
My irritation at my guys golf coaching schedule cannot even come to my grandma facing my Grandfather’s deployment to the Korean War. My ability to sit in church in that pew only finds resistance in my ten year old’s inability to get up for church or by asking myself am I in the right church? My grandfather was maintaining his catholic faith while hiding his “Bohemianess” from his neighborhood in order to fit in.
But this is not just about marginalization of a religious practice or group of people. This about my ability to be a working woman, a English teacher, the kind of mother I want to be, and a wife to whom I choose. Those freedoms came at a cost to those before me. Those freedoms are ones I place very little thought into now even though to my ancestors (even just my grandma and grandpa) were fought for.
My grandfather in the right was a veteran. He proudly served his country even though his country did not always accept him or his family. I am not sure I could have so easily been willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice given that immigrants were not so readily accepted in our country and specifically the region his family settled in.
Thankfully, by the time he served most of the prejudices were starting to get better, but I imagine my great grand parents were not so lucky. In fact, I know they weren’t. Yesterday in the pew that is who I thought of. And that is who I will remember today: Josef and Marie T. and their son, my grandpa, Joseph. Their road wasn’t easy but they always proudly took it the best they knew how.
And because of that I get to sit down to dinner with my girls and my guy and have some brats, creamed corn and cheesy potatoes. I can sometimes forget the sacrifices that were made so I can do that. And I believe they would want it that way. They lived the life they lived, so I can live the life I live. I just never want to forget.