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Thank you for your mothers and sons Carlos R. Davalos | Sat, May 28 2011 12:00 PM

One of the first assignments as a journalist I can recall was covering the Memorial Day ceremonies at Fort Rosecrans in Point Loma.

I don't remember much of the services. I don't remember what words were spoken. But I do remember watching a 4 or 5-year-old girl planting a miniature American flag on the grave of someone buried there.

Her small hands worked diligently to make the flag stand up in the pristine, manicured grass.

She was patient. Intent on making it stand. I photographed her while she worked. I probably burned a roll of 12 exposures hoping to get the perfect picture.

I don't recall the girl's name. I don't recall speaking to her family or the reason she was there. But the photo ran in the paper and so the information must have been gathered.

That was almost 20 years ago. I think of that morning every so often. She is probably a young adult now. Maybe somewhere in her early or mid 20s.

Was she there honoring her father or mother? An uncle or grandfather? Does she even remember that moment?

The day we've set aside to remember the military dead is a memorable and special day for some. For others, it's an extra day for the weekend. OK. So it is what it is.

But keep in mind that Memorial Day's fabled history includes a genesis that had mothers of Civil War soldiers decorating the graves of their boys who had died in that war.

Maybe it was a subtle, anti-war protest. Or perhaps it was just a way for women of different political ideologies to find common ground-the shared grief of losing a son, husband or father.

With that in mind, maybe a small part of Memorial Day ought to be set aside to recognize the men, women and children who are related to the dead.

Maybe it ought to be a day of gratitude.

Thank you to the mothers who gave birth to the young girls and boys who would one day join the service.

Thank you to the fathers who, along with their mothers, did their best to instill a sense of right and wrong, character and selflessness.

Thank you to the men, women and children who lent us their husbands, wives, mommies and daddies. A member of your family died for what we need to believe was a just cause.

Your family suffered a devastating loss. Somehow, an expression of gratitude doesn't seem to be enough.

Nevertheless, and for what it's worth, thank you.

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