MEMPHIS, TN – This Memorial Day holiday was bittersweet for many torn between a sense of duty to remember loved ones and taking pride in their accomplishments, coupled with an overwhelming sense of loss.
After all the traditional Memorial Day ceremonies featuring large crowds and military bands, the day was really about individuals paying respects, remembering love lost and honoring those memories. For some it was a hard thing to do.
“Yes it’s hard,” said Wanda Quinn, “we stayed married for 38 years and I’ve lost a great friend, a good husband and a good father. But, I’m thankful for the 38 years that God allowed us to be together.”
Wanda’s husband, Bruce, was a marine who served in Viet Nam, which was tough, but he liked it.
“Yes, he enjoyed being in the Marine Corps,” said Wanda, “and there were some things he told me about the marines they say you’re not supposed to tell their wives, but he told me (laughter).”
Sherrye Holmes Carey’s father was a soldier who died in 1993. Her mother passed in April and they’re buried side by side.
“With it being so close to my Mom’s death,” Carey told abc24.com, “it just brings back memories of my Dad’s death. But, I loved them very much and I think they know that.”
Sometimes, friends are as close as family.
“My best friend Daniel lost his life earlier this year,” Brad Pfeil told abc24.com, “every day I think about him. He was like my brother.”
Staff Sergeant Daniel Merriweather was only 26 when his life ended in Afghanistan. For his friends in Memphis, his memory is still fresh.
Memories like the things Daniel enjoyed doing.
“Listen to country music, sing karaoke and drink Budweiser,” laughed Pfeil, “he’s got two left out there on his gravesite right now. They should last him a couple of hours.”
Somebody dropped off a six-pack instead of flowers.
Memorial Day was also a teaching time for Aricelli Smith’s seven year old twins.
“I’ve wanted to bring my kids just to show them what Memorial Day is all about,” said Smith, “that it’s not just a holiday to play and have barbecues.”
So, did that message penetrate?
“It’s for people who died in the war,” said 7-year-old Sydney Smith.
But, not always.
Vivian Reynolds is an army veteran whose son was killed in a car crash.
“I’ve got mixed emotions,” said Reynolds, “it’s a nice sunny day but you get a little sad, especially with a kid. He was only 14 so I have mixed emotions.”
One universal sentiment was expressed by everyone. They’ll keep coming back.
“Every chance I can.” Reynolds said.
“As long as I’m able to do so, I sure will.” Carey said.
“But, it’s not getting any easier.” Quinn said.
Wanda was just 16 when she married Bruce; he was 18. She says she’s just thankful for everything they shared together.
All those interviewed on Memorial Day praised the cemetery for the way the grounds have been kept up. One person even described them as “immaculate.”