By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi
Today is a time of remembrance of those who served our country. Each Memorial Day, a flag is placed at my father’s monument to honor his service to our country. Having already served in the Italian army, my father was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II, after he had become a U.S. citizen. He was proud to serve his new country; he never regretted having been obliged to serve in the Italian Army and then in the U.S. Army. It was an honor, he told my brother and me. He genuinely believed it was what one did as a citizen.
Today we will visit my parents’ monument and place hanging baskets of pink and red New Guinea Impatiens on the side of the pale pink marble. Mama and Daddy both loved vibrant colored flowers. Unwavering in their loyalty to family, we decorated our deceased members’ monuments on what used to be called Decoration Day, but now is referred to as Memorial Day. As we offer up prayers to my beloved parents and grandparents at the old Catholic cemetery, I shall also be sending up prayers for the University of California – Santa Barbara students who were brutally and ruthlessly cut down by a delusional madman. I picture these victims with heartfelt sadness, for I have been teaching college students for many years. Their youth, vigor, and commitment to envisioning a better future spur me on to constantly strive to be a better educator.
In this morning’s New York Times, I viewed a photo gallery of the Santa Barbara and Isla Vista communities in pain and shock. What struck me too in these images of raw emotion were the flowers laid at the sites of those fallen students. Memorials created to honor those lives cut short. The same thoughts drifted to those Veterans of Service in our Armed Forces. True, not all died in warfare, but they served and served well, like those student victims served their studies, their families, their friends, and their communities. Unnatural deaths defy our understanding and tug at our moral core, whether it is at the hand of “the other” in warfare, or at the hand of an amoral lunatic wielding weapons. No matter how or when lives were lost, the fallen all deserve memorials of flowers, flags, and prayers on this and all other Memorial Days.
Ciao for now.