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Memorial Day Weekend

Time to Look Back and Ahead

We’re on the verge of big things.     
    Memorial Day weekend opens not only summer but also our hearts.
    Our national habit of making holidays of our holy days gives us fun, on the one hand, and I’m a fan of fun.
    But Memorial Day does an honor we must not forget.
    American soil was still stained with the blood of Union and Confederate soldiers when Decoration Day was conceived to pay them tribute by placing flowers on their graves. The day of honor caught on state by state — ruefully in the South — until visiting cemeteries on Decoration Day became an American custom. After World War I, the honor was extended to all who died in war fighting for the nation.
    In my girlhood, we bought and wore red paper poppies made by disabled veterans in honor of the blood of heroes and inspired by the poem In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses, row on row.
    We carried real flowers to the cemeteries to decorate beloved graves.
    The custom is not forgotten. Arlington National Cemetery places flags on each grave for Memorial Day, and too many families across the land again have graves of their own to visit and decorate.
    So at Bay Weekly, we eagerly accepted Stephanie Zanelotti’s invitation to write about the Stars and Stripes Festival she and Connie O’Dell are organizing at Chesapeake Beach to, Zanelotti says “bring back the true meaning of Memorial Day through family-oriented fun as well as educational events and activities.”
    Writer and poet Elisavietta Ritchie carried out the assignment for which she was suited by her military lineage: Father, grandfather, daughter and both first and present husbands served in the military through all the last century’s battle zones, living to write their stories.
    True to her background, Ritchie interviewed a half-dozen veterans who’ll be telling true stories of their wartime experiences at the festival throughout the weekend.
    In this week’s paper, you’ll get an overview of the festival and meet veterans George Brummell, Donald Knepp, Phil Pfanschmidt, Nicole Starr, Donald Taylor and Bruce Wahl.
    Find the full schedule at http://www.chesapeake-beach.md.us/events_cbssf.htm.
    We hope to see you there. Wherever you are, you can join hearts and hands around the nation in the National Moment of Remembrance at 3pm on each Memorial Day simply by pausing for a moment of silent reflection.

Another Big Deal: Graduation Day

    But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before Memorial Day Weekend comes May 24, which is the day 1,998 students graduate from Anne Arundel Community College. Any graduation is great, and, as Stacey Gomoljak Wynia writes in her first story for Bay Weekly, “an epic, bursting with stories that deserve to be told.”
    Community college graduations are, I think, uniquely American because they are so democratic, marking commencements achieved by hard work rather than privilege. In my early working years as a teacher in community college — first in an inner city St. Louis community college — I fell in life-long love with the mission and the students. So it’s with delight that we bring you the story of Class of 2012 mother-daughter graduates Dawn Rasmussen and Courtney Stewart. Thanks to grandmother Marie Clark, who brought the story to our attention.

P.S.: Do You See a Pattern Here?

    Yes, we love telling your stories. Bring them to us well in advance, and write persuasively (email is the best starting point). If the cards fall right, you may be one of 50,000 readers enjoying the story you suggested.
    Getting your story in print depends on unpredictable combinations of skill and chance. If you’ve not made past cuts, I apologize and hope you’ll try again.

One Last Big Deal: Moving Day

    Bay weekly’s office moving day is Friday, May 25.
    The office is deconstructing as I write. As soon as I say good-bye for this week, I’ll return to sorting files and photos.
    We’re not taking everything with us, and our recycling cans in the parking lot are filling with more than paper.
    We’ll be parting ways with file cabinets, chairs and a unit or two of RAM memory, plus who knows what else.
    Perhaps some of it could be useful to you?
    Assorted stuff is up for grabs Friday, May 25, between 10am and 2pm. Come by our old office at 1629 Forest Drive, Annapolis, to see — and take — for yourself.

    Between all that, I’ll see you on the water, by boat or pool. For Memorial Day weekend is many things, including the start of summer.