In May of 2012, I had the opportunity to stand and be a part of a funeral procession that stretched for miles. We were there together, honoring Army Spc. Chase Marta, a hometown hero who had paid the ultimate price in service to our country. I never knew Chase Marta, but we can never forget him.
Here is the story of that day.
Remembering Chase Marta on Memorial Day
A dozen years ago, I ordered two flags that had been flown over the Capitol building. I wanted them to commemorate the adoptions of my two oldest children, and figured I’d save the flags to give to my kids when they were older. The problem was, I paid for two special flags and received only one. I took it as an example of what happens when you send money to a politician.
I couldn’t think of a fair way to divide one star spangled banner between two children. The flag seemed too important to have out on our everyday flag pole, so I put the box on a shelf thinking I’d save that flag for a special occasion. Last week, I took Old Glory out of the box for a trip to Yuba City.
And thus I found myself standing with my daughter, Sophia, on the corner of Plumas Street and Colusa Avenue holding one side of an enormous flag while my child held up the other. My daughter stood with me for an hour and a half and never complained that she was too hot or that her arms were tired. She did, however, have a lot to say.
“So why do we have Memorial Day, anyway?” Sophia asked. I love that kid — she has a question for every occasion.
Sophia and I talked about the history of Memorial Day. I told her that it was first observed formally after the Civil War had torn our nation apart. We stood there holding the stars and stripes between us and tried to imagine the single day at Antietam where more than 23,000 casualties were recorded. Historians call it the bloodiest battle in American history.
I realized, of course, that this child understands nothing of war. Nor do I, for that matter. Safe at home with my quiet life, I take far too much for granted.
Looking around, I saw people with whom, on any other day, I might have very little in common. A young woman with fuschia hair stood down the block near a group of men in turbans. Businessmen in suits lined up alongside a young mom in tie-dye.
Biker dudes, veterans and soccer moms walked up and filled in the gaps. In a country that spends an inordinate amount of time tallying our differences, we were there with a commonality of purpose. The rest simply did not matter.
This, I want to teach my children, is what America should look like. We should not be about the checking off of boxes to divide us into neat little categories. People of all sorts stood together on that day in support of a family who paid an unspeakable price for us. For all of us.
We stood, united, to show Chase Marta’s family that their sacrifice was more than we deserved. It was more than we should have even dared ask of any one. That this young man, so full of promise, gave his life for our country still takes my breath away. We never knew Chase, and now we can never forget him.
Memorial Day is coming, and it will have a new significance for the Marta family. This day should be important to all Americans.
Use this Memorial Day to start a conversation with your children. Remind them what it means to be free. Teach them that freedom has had an enormous cost through the ages. Write it on their hearts that many brave souls have paid too high a price to ever be forgotten.
Take a stand somewhere, anywhere, and say, “I remember.”
Her most recent book, Start Homeschooling Today: No Experience Required provides a simple set of instructions that will give the beginning homeschooler the tools and the confidence to begin homeschooling successfully.