Memorial Day....

In the waning moments of today's holiday I am sitting here in bed, thinking about this day. Fran and I blew off a lot of things that needed to be done, and instead did a lot of things we wanted to do. Mostly we worked in the yard. Did a little maintenance and then proceeded to finish a lot of projects that we have been working on.

It all turned out beautifully and when we were done instead of jumping in the shower and kicking back to look out at our work, we went next door and helped the neighbors who are leaving fora big trip and trying to get everything done before they leave. All four of us knocked the work out and then kicked back for pizza and beers as the last bit of light left the sky.

Lots of people do lots of different things on this holiday. Most don't understand it's meaning. Sure, they are aware of the holiday, aware of why celebrate it and even vaguely aware of the sacrifice of young men and women. For most of my life, I was the same. Then two years ago, late at night in mid-April I received a call telling me that Cpl Ray Michael Bevel had been killed in action in Iraq. Ray, my cousin on my father's side, was a sweet boy, soft-spoken and kind-hearted. Even though I saw him just months before his death, I mostly remember him as the goofy kid with the big ears. A boy my father called Ray-Bird. I boy who loved to help others.

When I look back to his funeral I remember the thousands upon thousands of people lining the streets of small town West Texas as we brought his body home from the airport. Some had small
flags, some stood stoic and watched at the line of dark sedans and limos passed them by. Others were awash in tears and emotion. I would guess that very few of them knew Ray personally. It was a hard thing to go through for our family and of course for Ray's parents and siblings.

I could go on for a long time about that weekend. It was an amazing show of support. The most amazing thing was the outpouring of support from my uncle's neighbors there in Andrews. The way they cared for him and his family when they needed it was uplifting in more ways than I can say.

So when I look back on today, I can't imagine a more fitting way to celebrate this holiday than to take a few hours to help out a neighbor.