Memorial Day, May 27th, 2013, Concho, Arizona
Ritual and respect are two of many commitments we make to ourselves and our communities.
In New York City, year after year, the holidays compete with what they did the year before like fashion designers on Seventh Avenue runways. They attract movie stars and news stations provide coverage; so camera view complete that you don’t have to leave home. Advertisers pay millions for prime time exposure. We eat meals, arrange family time and take time off from work to schedule our lives around the telecasts including, the Puerto Rican Day parade, Thanksgiving Macy’s Day Parade and even the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. I learned to stay home during these media rituals. These events seem to have lost the original idea of celebrating a good Irish man, Puerto Rican pride and the gratitude toward the discovery of America. Memorial Day in New York City is a company paid day off from work.
Today, I walked one block to the Lions Park in Concho, Arizona to experience the Memorial Day event with the Concho community. Arizonians walk and drive to the grassless field. The annual event and goal of the broad stroked families reveal values that have been lost in the metropolis of New York City.
It is cloudy and peaks of sun allow dogs to thirst in the dust. On this Monday, two youngsters lip synced to the old song, “A Bushel and a Peck,” with a bale of hay as their seat.
Tents provide shade to tables where used books, lampshades, and teddy bears in different colors are sold. Today, Concho remembers. One veteran drove from Phoenix with her mother. They saw the flyer in Show Low and decided to drive here. She appreciates the efforts. She was in the Army in the 1980’s. Her brother recently came home from Afghanistan. She says that she is giving him time to adjust and that she sees some changes in him. She doesn’t squirm when she says it-she accepts it. She also accepts the peace in the Concho playground, the meal she ate and the company in front of her. More than once she says, “He just needs time.”
Country music pipes in from the public address system; the tables and chairs are on loan from the Concho Elementary School. The local Sugar Shack provides the food and donates their time to the almost 400 who line up with their pre paid meal tickets. Arizona, today, remembers. Conchoites get their faces painted; contribute to a gun raffle and a silent auction.
Every year it happens. This year, the dead soldiers from Arizona were remembered again with their names read and American flags flying from front porches and cars.