Enjoy the holiday, but remember the real meaning

May 26, 2013

The fat lady is about to sing. And she is going to have a set of pipes on her the likes of which you’ve never heard. She has been practicing now for the last couple of weekends. That’s right, Memorial Day is right around the corner.

That means parking meters, traffic, crowds, begging for quarters and what Americans love best, long lines. Shrug it off now, but by the end of the summer, you won’t even remember your address and you will be diagnosed with a permanent condition known as having low testosterone, even if you are a woman.

There is a transformation that has to take place if you live here all year round. You’ve got to change your mind-set quickly, from pulling right into a parking place downtown to being in a holding pattern that is showing up at the air traffic control tower in Philadelphia. It never seems like you are ready for the Charge of the Light Brigade.

We know there are so many positive benefits from all the tourists that descend upon the area. Unfortunately, the only transformation from our minds has been a bet on how long you can actually stand it.

What are the odds you are going to make it until July before having a complete meltdown after which your body is no longer capable of producing red blood cells.

It does take some preparation. You probably have already noticed that as usual DelDOT is on top of things. They’ve already closed some lanes on Route 1 to do some minor work, funneling vans filled with kids screaming they have to go potty, merging them with cars pulling boats the size of aircraft carriers.

Eventually everyone will have to go potty, which is why they no longer have ashtrays in cars anymore.

Still it’s always amazing to look up and see crowds back at the boardwalk, lugging chairs and belongings like they are going into a waiting room at the nearest Greyhound bus station. People spilling onto the sidewalks with T-shirts that say “Tourist from Hell” will become a common sight.

But that’s not the only thing spilling out in the summer, as the beach cover-up has gone the way of the rotary phone. Rolls of skin, some looking like a bad paving job on an asphalt driveway, will block your view, often even darkening the sunlight, to the point that some beachgoers pack up thinking there is an impending storm.

And let’s not forget those get-togethers with family and friends. Soon the aroma of charcoal grills sputtering and burning good prime meat into shards of black rawhide will permeate the air. Wait, that’s just at my house. Not to worry, we always stock up on burn ointment and bandages before firing up that first barbecue of the summer.

Still, the real reason we celebrate Memorial Day is not just because it’s a day off from work and the official opening of summer; it’s because it is a time to honor those who have died in our nation’s service. That is the true meaning and one we should stop and fit into our plans.

Originally conceived as Decoration Day, the holiday that falls on the last Monday in May has many traditions. One of the most visible is the red poppy sale.

It was conceived by Moina Michael to honor those who died serving their nation during war. She was inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields.”

She wrote, “We cherish, too, the Poppy red

That grows on fields where valor led;

It seems to signal to the skies

That blood of heroes never dies…”

Enjoy the holiday, but take a moment to join our real heroes with a moment of silence, a thought, a prayer or displaying your flag.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.

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