It was Memorial Day weekend. A hot and humid memorial day weekend, with the para-dressage team showing up in Saratoga and me volunteering as cross country control at Flora Lea, which all went well.
Memorial day was conceived as a day of remembrance for those who have died in military service to our country. Moina Micheal originated the wearing of red poppies on Memorial Day in conjunction with this poem 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.
According to Wikipedia (yes, that great source), Memorial Day had become, by the early 20th century, a more general day of remembrance not limited to those that died serving in the Military (as well as a day for the parades, picnics and the beach). While enjoying the extra day off work, the feeling of memory was strong for me through the weekend and especially on Monday. Phillip spoke eloquently at the True Prospect open house (http://www.phillipdutton.com/)of the horses that died a year ago at True Prospect, remembering them, but most strongly remembering and commemorating the bravery of Ryan, Caitlin and Lillian and their strength in going on and "not letting such a tragedy define their lives" as well as remembering and thanking the eventing and local community for their support.
Meanwhile the weekend was creating another sad event to memorialize. Three of the Pollard eventing team's horses were killed due to a selfish driver cutting in front of the trailer over the weekend. The lovely Icarus and Jude's Law as well as a young stallion Ulando. Michael and some of his team spoke powerfully about these horses yesterday http://soundcloud.com/chrisstaffordradio/pollard-eventing-team.
According to the National Safety Council, the Memorial Day weekend results in an excess of approximately 40 deaths compared to equivalent non-holiday periods (http://www.nsc.org/Documents/Memday2012.pdf), so those are more deaths to remember, by remembering to be patient, drive safely, turn off the phone and have a designated non-drinking driver as you enjoy the holiday. The Pollard's horses might still be alive if someone had not been impatient and paying insufficient attention.
And also in my memories as I thought about the weekend and those no longer here; my mom who died the weekend after Memorial Day last year, as well as was my friend Michael Taylor who died of AIDS in 1989 and John Pryor, my trauma surgeon colleague who was killed in Iraq on Christmas day 2008.
Having connections to family, friends, colleagues and (for many of us) animals brings all that is good to life - love, friendship, laughter, excitement, sharing, caring, support, comradery.... The risk of loss has little weight against what is gained, but it is good to take a moment to remember. While the memories are not without sadness, so often what shines through is the good - the community banding together after the True Prospect fire, running with the trauma department team in the legs against arms 5k in memory of John Pryor, learning aerobics and then becoming an aerobics instructor and pitching in for the totally ridiculous red spandex unitard that Michael wore when teaching, brunch at the Columbia Gorge Inn with my mom, and knowing that risking these connections means that I have love and friendship, comradery and support just as I would wish we all could as a connected community of Americans when we suffer loses whether through war, disaster, accident, crime, illness or natural causes.