Martin’s Blog: Flashback Friday and Memorial Day

I drove Julie all the way to work in downtown DC today because she forgot her Metro card. Normally, this would have been a nightmare but it was actually very nice because the roads were clear of traffic. Apparently everyone had already left for the holiday weekend and what is normally an hour’s drive was really only 35 minutes.

On the way home, I realized I was driving in the midst of hundreds of motorcycles. I was reminded that  Rolling Thunder is in DC to honor Memorial Day this weekend.


Rolling Thunder is when motorcyclists from around the country drive to DC and visit Arlington cemetery before driving through the city, all in honor of those who have died for America. I first saw and learned about this in 2008 when Julie’s friend from Germany, Pam, was in town and we took her to see the city. It’s very loud and really neat to see all those motorcycles in one place. Most have some type of flag on them, and most drivers are wearing something that shows their military connection.

In Germany, we do not have a day that honors the dead from our past wars. Patriotism and such public displays of national pride is a very different thing over there as it is here. People will come out and drape the German flag when the country wins a soccer match, but you will not see that in remembrance of those who died in the military.

To my knowledge, the only person in my family to die in war was my great-uncle Karl who was an older teenager when he was killed in combat in World War I. I only know of him from what my Oma told us.

I really think it’s a good thing that Americans do this. War is never a good thing and it is the people who are far away from the decision-making, like the military people and their families, who really suffer the most for a long time. It is right to honor them.

As for Julie’s family, there is a lot of military history in her family. Her grandfathers, her great-uncles, her uncle and dad all served. None of them died in combat, but her grandfather and Uncle Ray paid heavily for the things they experienced in World War II and Vietnam. And through Julie’s military service, combat-related deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan have hit close to home.
She wrote about those she knew who have died, which is my Flashback Friday link this week. A few months after she wrote that, her Air Force Reserve coworker’s brother was killed in Afghanistan. His name was Marine Sgt. Joe Caskey. Julie serves with his brother, Jeremy.
We will be thinking of them this weekend.