During the twelve years we have been living in California, we never went to the Memorial Day ceremony in our Memorial Park. Every year, the Annual Avenue of Flags is displayed there - I am not quite sure how many flags you can see there, the number must be in the hundreds plus the fifty states flags. It is quite impressive.
Most of the soldiers' graves were decorated as well, with small flags and flowers.
The celebration itself was touching, and I was impressed how many people had turned up despite the lousy weather. There was also a group of men (unfortunately I couldn't find out who it was) who sang the national anthem and "America the Beautiful" in such a beautiful way! Here they are:
I had never experienced something like this in Germany. The military in my country is seen completely differently, and of course our history plays a role in that. After World War II my country has pledged that never again any aggression toward any other country would emerge from our native soil. Until July 2011 we had the draft which was not hugely popular. The Geek served in the German military. However, somehow our relationship to everything military is a bit crooked and can probably only be understood if you try to look a bit deeper into the "German soul".
Even though I grew up with an ambivalence toward the military, I found this Memorial Day ceremony deeply touching. I was lucky enough that a veteran from Connecticut asked me about my camera and thus we started talking to each other. Of course (this happens to me so often), he was proud to tell me the few words he knew in German, and we talked and talked. He could actually understand my feelings about the ceremony.
I'm ending this post with a sentiment what Memorial Day (and every other day for that matter) is about. Let us never forget the men and women anywhere in the world who serve their country.