Monday, May 27, 2013

Salute to Memorial Day

“The muffled drum's sad roll has beat 
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on life's parade shall meet
The brave and daring few.
On Fame's eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead.” – Bivouac Of The Dead, by Theodore O'Hara 

Formerly known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day originated after the Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died. By the 20th century Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars. Many of us visit cemeteries and “decorate” graves on Memorial Day, and it is traditionally seen as the start of the summer season.

As writers, many of us can find fodder for our craft in the history of our wars and our ancestors who fought in them. My own father was a veteran of WWII and met my mother, a German nurse, during the American occupation. Their love story is the basis of one of my upcoming novels.

A friend of mine, Jennifer Wilke, has written a beautiful novel, The Color of Prayer, based on her great-grandfather, who served in the Civil War.

Simple scenes of family gatherings at lakes, picnics, or on campgrounds can serve as settings for your future stories.

Whatever you’re doing today, stop a moment and remember.

A native Montanan,
Heidi M. Thomas now lives in North-central Arizona. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, is based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, won the national WILLA Award. Heidi has a degree in journalism, a certificate in fiction writing, and is a member of Northwest Independent Editors Guild. She teaches writing and edits, blogs, and is working on the next books in her “Dare to Dream” series.


  1. You are right. My dad was in WW II, Korean War, and Vietnam. My father-in-law was in WW II. Listening to their stories is history come to life.
    Thank you for your timely post.

  2. Thanks for the good post, Heidi. My dad didn't see combat, but he was a radioman in the Merchant Marine in WWII, sailing the North Atlantic.

  3. I'm much more influenced by Vietnam than WWII. My high school and college graduating classes got nearly wiped out in the draft. I honor their memories, for they served at a time when no one cared about the war or the men and women who fought it. Good post to help us all remember those who served and still serve.

  4. Very timely post. I do hope lots of people can read it. We can never day enough for and about the people who have served in the military.

    On my father's side, there has been a Van Gilder in every war since the Spanish American war. Some have died in combat, while others did make it home. Either way, they sacrificed much.

  5. We were in a Memorial Day parade today, but what really struck home was the ceremony afterward when they read off the names of vets from our village who had died.

  6. I went to a parade and, like Morgan, was struck by the group that carried signs with simply one name each— one for every fallen hometown hero. Quite stirring. Thanks for the reminder of the day's true meaning, Heidi.


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