Since today, May 30th, is the true Memorial Day (or Decoration Day, as it was once known), I wanted to share a few photos of how my family and I spent our weekend.

Last Saturday, we ventured up to the Santa Maria Cemetery where we “planted” flags on the graves of veterans. There were so many volunteers present that it only took about an hour to cover the entire cemetery (and it’s not a tiny cemetery, either).

We were with a group from our local Children of the American Revolution (C.A.R.), but there were also representatives from the VFW, 4-H, Boy Scouts, DAR, and a few groups I couldn’t identify.

My daughter loved carrying the flags around, and tried hard to plant a few herself. Unfortunately, the ground was as hard as concrete, so without a trusty screwdriver to make the hole first, it was almost impossible to get the flags in the ground… even for a grown-up.

It was a pretty amazing sight to see all those flags go up.

On Monday, we went back to the Santa Maria Cemetery for the official Memorial Day Ceremony, sponsored by the American Legion, Post 56, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 2521.

A few kids – including my daughter – presented a wreath from the C.A.R. Wreaths were also presented by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), and several other groups.

It was a very moving experience.

At one point, the ceremony was paused while Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” played. Several veterans in the audience were in uniform and removed their hats to slowly wave them to the music. I swear, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place, including mine.

By the end of the weekend, my daughter was saying, “Flag” all by herself.

I think I got the point across… even to an almost-2-year old. In our house, Memorial Day isn’t just a BBQ or a sale at the department store.

News coverage of this event by KCOY and The Santa Maria Times.

Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O’Neal

Elizabeth is a professional genealogist and California native living in the Santa Barbara area. She has been researching her own family for almost three decades, and providing research services to others for about 8 years.

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