I have many ancestors who have lived great lives and made good choices and decisions that have had an affect on my life and who I am. I have grandparents and aunts who have collected stories about my ancestors and have made them available to me and my family. I have gone with my own mother to libraries to search out and find information about my ancestors. It is amazing to see the information that is available, and sometimes overwhelming to realize the work that it takes to verify and organize the information that we do have. It is something that I know I need to work on, to carry on the work that others have begun.
When I was a child, every Memorial Day my parents would pack up the car with a picnic lunch and drive us all north for about two hours to the small town where both of my maternal grandparents grew up. We would meet with our grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins for a picnic lunch in the little town park, and then gather with more relatives from my Grandfather's extended family for a family reunion and genealogy meeting. Sometimes the children were allowed to skip the meeting and play outside in the park, but I remember attending most of the meetings where I heard stories about my pioneer ancestors and the sacrifices they made in order to provide a better life for their children and grandchildren.
After the meeting there was usually time to visit the old town cemetery and see the gravesites of many of these brave ancestors. We would bring a few spring flowers to decorate the graves, and learn a bit more about our family history and background. Sometimes we would even stop on the way home at a local fruit stand or ice cream parlor for a treat to eat or take home.
This family reunion is no longer held every year on Memorial Day, but is now held every other year on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. This past Saturday, my DH and two of our daughters were able to make the trip back to this reunion. It was good to visit the old rock home that my great-great grandfather built and where he raised his family. It was good to hear the stories once again retold, and to have my daughters hear them too. We were even able to find some ice cream before heading home!
For many people, the Memorial Day weekend is a time to honor those who have died fighting for our freedeoms. For others it is the first summer holiday and a day for camping and fishing and shopping and BBQ. For me, memorial day will always be a day for me to reflect on my heritage and the legacy and many blessings that my ancestors have left for me.