Women of the ELCA
Commentary and reflections on issues, events and trends in our church, society and world, as seen through the lens of our mission and purpose and our ministries.
Memorial Day has taken on an even greater meaning for me as a time to honor those who have made our freedom possible. In 2009 I was able to visit Washington D.C. during the Memorial Day weekend. I’ll never forget it. When I came out of the train elevator, the doors opened to the Rolling Thunder Rally, thousands of motorcycles with veteran riders roaring through the streets in parade formation. These veterans and their bikes, decorated with flags and patriotic apparel, were holding out their hands so bystanders could reach out and touch them.
When I slapped my first biker’s hand and made contact, I thanked him for his service. In that split second of contact, I saw tears covering his face and while I had tears pouring down my face, I understood how important it is to honor vets. There were thousands of bikers having this same experience with thousands of pedestrians! As the bikers continued to roar by, the crowds clapped and cheered and slapped and thanked! It went on for hours.
I was totally overwhelmed with my emotions. That was only the beginning of my day. I also visited the different war memorials and talked to veterans who were milling around the mall. My day ended with the National Memorial Day Concert on the Capital lawn where hundreds of thousands of people gathered to hear stories of veterans and listen to glorious patriotic music.
I know that what I experienced that day was as close to a secular “religious experience” as I’ll ever get. I treasure my memories but mostly, I’ll continue to thank the vets!
Diane Frederick, of Oak Park Heights, Minn., is serving a second term on the churchwide executive board of Women of the ELCA.