lower grounds at Olmsted are a favorite place for many of our guests
to take some time for "walking meditation."
The lily pond has been offering up
wonderful reflections since the days when Iva Olmsted walked around
her beloved gardens. Sometimes reflecting a clear blue sky,
sometimes looming thunderclouds, walking around this pond leads to
the labyrinth, a wonderful tool for a walking meditation.
Recently Olmsted's Director, Jody Larson, spent some time in
reflection getting ready for a speech to the community. What
follows is from Jody:
You know you have
lived in a community long enough to be considered one of the “in
crowd” when you are asked to be the speaker at the cemetery on
Memorial Day. This was my first time and here is what I had to say…
May 30, 2011
It is an honor to be your speaker on
this day set apart for special remembrance. I would like to share a
description of this day as penned by an unknown author:
“Memorial Day is a day unlike any
Since 1868 we have come together in our communities, towns
and villages, to place flowers and flags on the graves of those who
have given their last full measure of devotion to our country. We
have come here to remember and honor those who have done their duty,
as God allowed them to see that duty.”
When I was a kid everyone in my home
town called Memorial Day; Decoration Day. Probably some of you call
it that too. There was a parade on this day in our town. It would
form way back on the east end of town and move westward on Main
Street. Leading the procession in front were the service men from
town forming the honor guard. All the kids decorated their bikes
and rode in the parade. The drug store would order extra red white
and blue crepe paper on rolls that would be woven into the spokes of
our bikes. The toy store would always have handle bar streamers in
patriotic colors as well. The high school band would play and fire
trucks and emergency vehicles from the area would follow along the
parade route. The Boy and Girl Scout Troops always marched along and
had their place in the procession. It was a grand parade on an
early summer morning that led the way to one of our two beautiful
cemeteries much like Ludlow’s, Mt. Jewett has two, Bridgeview and
Nebo. It was a long walk to both cemeteries, especially Nebo. It
reminded us that the theme of the day had to do with hard work and
sacrifice. Upon arrival at the cemetery a solemn service of
remembrance was held.
We planted geraniums on
our family’s cemetery plots each year when I was a kid. The flowers
would arrive at our house, dozens of them in clay pots. My father
and I would travel to both cemeteries and do the planting. It was a
good project to do with your dad and we would see a lot of people we
knew doing the same thing. It was one of those things that gave you
a kind of respectability. To care for the graves of those who had
gone before us was a good and responsible thing to do.
As I grew older it became
apparent to me that Memorial Day was much more than a day for a
parade and planting flowers at the cemetery. When John asked me to
be the speaker today, I honestly thought, and I will admit, I’m not
qualified. In 1973 when I registered for the draft, the Vietnam War
was within two years of ending. Not having served in the armed
forces or the reserves, I have no experience in what it means to be
a soldier. No training, no experience, and no stories. It worked out
that I was in the right age group to miss being drafted and sent off
Even though I haven’t had military
experience, as a citizen of this great country I do know about the
immense courage and great sacrifice that tens of thousands have made
for what we take for granted; freedom.
>Freedom to live and move about this
>to vote and participate in a
>to practice religion and worship
without fear of persecution-
>to speak out and voice an opinion
without fear of retribution-
>Freedom to be proud of our various
ethnic heritages and to share them together, united as Americans.
What a unique mixture of people we are as a society in the United
States, people representing every country all around the world.
Certainly all of us are descendants of settlers or immigrants who
came to make a life here.
There was a moment recently when the
reality of all this took on new meaning for me. We recently visited
the World War II monument in Washington DC. While we were looking at
each state’s section and reading the history of the battle locations
in the Atlantic and Pacific Pavilions, it occurred to me that I was
surrounded by people from all over the world, some of whom would be
the descendants of those who we were at war with at that time. It
reminded me again, that we are part of a greater global community.
Through the great wars and all the
other confrontations in our country’s history, Americans have been
united in their resolve to be a “free nation, under God, with
liberty and justice for all.” As someone who has been a virtual buy
stander in regard to our country’s defense, and in the 55 or so
years I have been witness to enjoying my personal freedoms, I must
pause today and count my blessings. To simply say I am thankful, is
far from being enough to satisfy the great debt owed to those who
have defended and served America.
One of the questions that I asked
myself in preparing for today’s service was this. What can we do to
honor the memory of our departed veterans, and to honor the service
of our living veterans?
>A very simple act is to respectfully
fly the flag on holidays and other appropriate days. Salute the flag
with the respect and reverence of a grateful American.
>Another way to honor our service men
and women is to respect and abide by the laws of our land. To be
honest in our life and work is consistent with what it means to be
>Yet another is to participate in
public service in our communities and beyond to promote and insure
the common good. Participation in our system of democracy whether by
simply voting or serving in office, volunteering in our communities,
all helps sustain the vitality of a free and transparent system of
>Being good stewards of our natural
resources and insuring their future is another responsibility that
honors our veterans. How precious they are to our everyday living
and how vulnerable they can be if not properly defended and
safeguarded by each one of us.
>Perhaps one of the practical and
effective things we can all do is to support the families of active
duty personnel. There are countless ways to be involved in efforts
to support and aid those who wait and watch for loved ones to come
home. In the same way, there are many opportunities to support our
troops through churches and other organizations.
>Finally, I believe we have a great
responsibility as people of faith to pray. The power of prayer is
great and it joins us together in union with God and with those who
serve in dangerous places along with their families who have given
of themselves to serve our country.
Today we join thousands of Americans
doing just what we are doing here at Gibbs Hill Cemetery.
Remembering and reflecting on the lives of exceptional people both
passed and living who said yes when called to serve their country.
Together we honor and thank them for the gift of freedom and
independence. As we leave this place I would leave you with this
simple thought. That perhaps one of the most effective and enduring
things we can do to honor our veterans, is to diligently work and
pray for peace. Together we can seek out avenues to communally work
for peace and reconciliation and support those persons who have
dedicated their lives to peacemaking.
The hope begins here and in every
other place today that Memorial Day is commemorated, that perhaps
their true memorial, is the nation and culture we create from their