Today is Memorial Day, but we did school anyway. Partly because I really want to finish in a timely manner, and partly because I thought studying Memorial Day would be a great opportunity for learning–so why not do “school?”
I asked the girls if they had any idea why we celebrate “Memorial Day” in the first place, and neither of them really knew. When I explained that it had to do with soldiers, and war, they began to understand. Amelie asked me if it was the day they celebrated at public school, where they would bring in information about a veteran in the family. I told her that she was thinking of Veteran’s Day, and that it is a separate holiday with a different purpose.
Josh and I explained that while Veteran’s Day celebrates all veteran’s, Memorial Day is actually set apart to honor those who died in action. I read to them about the origins of Memorial Day, about how it began shortly after the Civil War, and that it was first called Decoration Day because people would decorate the graves of the Union soldiers.
Although it is a day set aside to remember those who have died, we wanted to share with the girls some of their own family history, and so we talked about Josh’s grandad and my two grandfathers and their roles in War World II.
Josh’s grandad, Howard Galusha, was an aircraft mechanic, and worked on the very famous (or maybe infamous) Enola Gay. My dad’s dad, Edward Paris Sr., served as an auto mechanic.
My mom’s dad, Martin Alfano, was an Italian American sent to fight IN Italy, where he would meet (and inadvertently terrify) my Italian grandmother as she collected apples in an orchard. When he tried to speak to her, she ran away, spilling all of the apples she onto the ground. He won her family and their trust by sneaking cigarettes and gum to their apartment. And eventually, he won my grandmother, married her in Italy, and my mother was born there in Napoli in 1945.
Grandpa Alfano fought in the battles of Normandy, North Africa, Sicily, Corsica, and France. He received the Purple Heart and FIVE Bronze Stars for wounds received in enemy action in 1943. Bronze Stars “may be awarded for acts of heroism, acts of merit, or meritorious service in a combat zone.” One of Grandpa Alfano’s duties was to carry deceased soldiers off of the battle ground. We told the girls, that these were most likely his friends and people that he knew–just like they have friends that they know and love.
As is the case for all parents, it is difficult for Josh and I to discuss war with the girls. Nevertheless, we talked about how horrific war is, about how people do not come back the same, and about how sometimes, even seemingly “good” countries fight “bad” wars for very, very wrong reasons. We talked about how any war is an awful thing, but how tyranny and killing people based on ethnicity is absolutely evil, and that our grandfathers were brave and honorable to serve and fight for justice.
Later that day, we went to visit our friends who have recently moved to the Whites Creek area. They have two very precious little boys. The morning was kind of heavy as we discussed war and sin and pain, so it was a relief to be able to see friends and to enjoy a beautiful spot on the creek.
When the oldest brother was just a wee baby, we used to watch him at our house once a week. I’m not sure if he really remembers that, but I certainly do, and he will always have a special place in our hearts! Look at Amelie feeding him–she isn’t much bigger herself!
Now he is almost FIVE!
Look at him and Amelie now (and the papas in the background)…she’s bigger, but not big enough for those flippers!
We had fun getting to know little brother too, who was content to stand in the creek for a long, long time. Those teeny tiny specks are Sera and Amelie, WAY upstream!
Thank you so much for having us, and for sharing the holiday with our family!