Labor Day and A Personal Memorial Day

Beautiful Flowers for Bob P. from his Children

IF you prefer to read more about Labor Day, select the link/URL below. I write this blog to honor a loved one and to share my first experience at a memorial service in over thirty years, as a free citizen since my release from federal prison on August 28, 2018.

What is the meaning of Labor Day?

“Do you get weekends off work? Lunch breaks? Paid vacation? An eight-hour workday? Social security? If you said ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you can thank labor unions and the U.S. labor movement for it. Years of hard-fought battles (and the ensuing legislation they inspired) resulted in many of the most basic benefits we enjoy at our jobs today. On the first Monday in September, we take the day off to celebrate Labor Day and reflect on the American worker’s contributions to our country.” https://nationaltoday.com/labor-day-2019/ [errors corrected by this author]

America celebrates Labor Day in honor of the working men and women who make America great. I will work today at a Goodwill of North Georgia store in McDonough, Georgia.

The work I do does not compare to work done by those who serve in the military, in America and abroad, as well as the emergency responders and all others who serve and protect the public. Pro-war, anti-war, anti-government, or whatever, in my opinion, those brave men and women deserve praise and to be honored; especially, the fallen men and women we celebrate on Memorial Day who gave their lives.

Georgia National Cemetery, Canton, Georgia

My personal Memorial Day began on August 17, 2019, when a loved one took that flight to a special place in the sky, high above the clouds. I had awakened during the early hours and knew his day had come, so I sent him a text message and one on Messenger to say my farewell to Bob, my brother-in-law, and friend of over fifty years.

He moved on to another life within twelve hours.

Bob P., Proudly Represented the United States Air Force

Bob P. served in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam Era. He left the United States en route to Vietnam, and then a miracle happened: President Richard Nixon began the de-escalation of troops in Vietnam to end the war, so Bob went to Korea and, then later, to Japan instead of Vietnam.

He fought many health battles after his return, many illnesses which were caused by exposure to chemicals used during that period. He survived cancer and then had his first heart attack at the age of thirty-nine, likely caused by drugs used to treat cancer developed from exposure to the chemicals.

Photo provided courtesy of the family.

The Air Force honored Bob at the Memorial Service. I fought tears and lost several battles during the service, but when the soldier began playing the Taps, the streams began to flow.

Final Resting Place for Cremains of some of those who served our Country
The Same Pastor Conducted the Funeral Services of My Other Loved Ones

Many men and women trapped inside prison walls cannot attend funeral services. Some can but many cannot. I was one who could not because I was viewed as a security risk.

While in prison, I lost my mother and one of my younger brothers. From inside prison, though difficult to deal with the loss of loved ones, whose funerals I could not attend because of my security level, I was somewhat shielded from the emotional effects of death. I wanted to go to their funerals and to be there for them, but couldn’t because of the mistakes I had made decades before.

I had never attended a military funeral but suspect Bob’s won’t be my last. Military or not, I do not like attending such an event; however, I love the survivors enough to deal with my personal discomfort to be there to support them with love and compassion.

The ones I loved and cared for, whose services I attend, have left the body or remains and may be watching and wondering, “Why are they crying, don’t they know I am free and at peace?”

To all who gave their lives!

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