Memorial Day 2006

Biking by a florist shop this morning in between Toluca Lake and North Hollywood on its tiny marquee over the front door, instead of “2 Doz. Roses – $22.99” it read “God Bless Our Troops” in crooked marquee letters. And my first thought is well maybe not necessarily those particular troops from our own Camp Pendleton that I read about this morning who have been found to have gone house-to-house last November killing innocent Iraqi men, women and children in retaliation for the death of a fellow marine killed by a roadside bomb — and then trying to cover what they did up. No, maybe I won’t be blessing them.

I’ve paid annual visits to the Los Angeles National Cemetery in Westwood each Memorial Day since 2002, and I encourage everyone to do so. It’s somber and beautiful and heartbreaking and breathtaking. Mighty powerful stuff, to be sure.

But I won’t be going back this time around — not in protest or anything, but because I have to admit it’s getting tougher each year since the war in Iraq began to see the new gravesites and gleaming marble headstones of the local young men killed there, and because I just won’t be in the viciniity. I’ll be far away this weekend hiking up to the top of the 11,000-foot Telescope Peak in Death Valley.

But I’m going to bring a little flag with me on the climb, and when I get to the summit I’m going to plant it in the ground as best I can and I’m going to have a moment of silence filled with respect and gratitude for the men and women of our armed forces who have honorably served their country.

Photo by Will Campbell taken at Los Angeles National Cemetery Memorial Day 2005. Click image for a pop-up enlargement.

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