Melancholia, The Goddess of Memorial Day

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Like most Americans for me Memorial Day was the official beginning of summer.  Parades and street dances dominated the celebrations here in fly-over country.  I knew the history, General Logan, healing the wounds of the civil war.  It was the start of summer, and included a paid day off of work.  You can’t beat that with a stick.

Every Saint has his feast day, St Crispin and St Crispian celebrate theirs on the day King Henry V bespoke the greatest ode to soldiers ever written.  The roman god Baccus, the god of wine, has his own feast days, the Bacchanalia.

Each saint, god and goddess is due their feast day.  Melancholia takes hers on Memorial Day.  The featured image is an etching by Albrect Durer, 1519.  Melancolia, the goddess of broken hearts.  Doesn’t that sum up Memorial Day?  Most folks know the history but they don’t feel it like I do.  I didn’t feel it for the longest time.  I knew the history but I didn’t feel the history.  I feel it now.  There’s only one singer who can play for Melancholia’s feast day…

From childhood till young adulthood Memorial Day was a day off, a reason to party.  It should be, I’m glad most of the country see’s it that way.  Way back in their minds they know its about veterans.  They may not realize that the holiday is about Soldiers who have given their lives for the future of our Nation or other Nations.  Lincoln said it best when he described them as those who had given the last full measure of devotion.

Melancholia’s Feast Days haunt me, I remember the history and I remember the losses I’ve suffered.  A twenty year old Paratrooper, my twenty year old Paratrooper, who only wanted to do his job, hit by a suicide vehicle borne IED in Kabul.  The force of the collision cracked the door on his armored vehicle enough that the explosion killed him.  I still wear his bracelet and on that day I’m useless.

You don’t have to take my word for Hank being Melancholia’s artist, you can ask Jerry Jeff Walker.

“I play jazz when I am confused, I play country whenever I lose, the third saxophone just won’t seem right, I feel like Hank Williams tonight.”

My family takes my tears for granted at the graves on Monday when the American Legion Color Guard marches at the cemetery, its the other seemingly random times I cry during the weekend that they wonder about.  Those are the times I think about my bestest and closest friend who was taken by cancer last fall.  I think about my friend who retired a few years after I did and put a 9mm in his mouth and blew his head off.  F*ckin’ why?  What could make things seem so hopeless?

I’m glad most of the Nation thinks of us vets during Melancholia’s Feast Days, it wouldn’t be a holiday if they had the same thoughts I do.  No one would celebrate my thoughts but I’m glad for the opportunity to remember my brothers, no matter how they were lost to me.  “You wrote Your Cheatin’ Heart about a gal like my first ex-wife, you moaned the blues for me and for you, Hank Williams you wrote my life.”

No matter how many Melancholia’s Feast Days I survive…  I’ll never get out of this world alive..



About the Author:

I joined the Army in 1988, served in the 25th IL (L) , 24th ID, The Infantry Training Brigade, The 82nd Airborne Division, Ft Polk and again The 82nd Division until I retired in 2008. I was a mortar maggot and retired with the rank of Master Sergeant.
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