Memorial Day 2012 means that summer’s here

By Henry Passenger
Summer has arrived, regardless of calendars.
Memorial Day, as everyone knows, marks the official launch for summer vacationers.
To paraphrase Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon introduction, “It’s been a busy and hectic few days.”
Margaret and I are dealing with our birthdays and a wedding anniversary in one nice compact nine-day span. (I’m gaining new understanding and compassion for those whose birthdays come uncomfortably close to Christmas.) Such a schedule is convenient from the standpoint of having everything condensed into one brief time span. On the other hand, it can be awkward if a birthday date gets transposed with the wedding anniversary date. Of course, it doesn’t help to have Memorial Day shifting around to various dates.
It was interesting to note that as we headed toward Margaret’s daughter’s home in suburban Detroit Monday that the gloom and doom prophets missed the prediction on gasoline pricing. (Earlier this year “they” had been talking in terms of $4 gasoline with the possibility that it might hit $5.) Traditionally, it seems, fuel prices tend to surge as motorists take to the highways to flee hot muggy days. Not so this weekend for us. The posted prices ranged from $3.48 to $3.69. (Diesel, however, had broken the $4 barrier.)
Sunday was the official dedication of Monroe’s Civil War monument, a project that was in the preliminary talking stage as early as 1912, but got shelved when World War I came along.
The memorial consists of three granite slabs – two of them inscribed with the names of the 410 confirmed Monroe soldiers who died in that war. The third depicts the image of a soldier of that era. (More Monroe County soldiers died in that war than in all other wars combined.)
The ceremony was marked by a march of Civil War re-enactors to the site. A Civil War cannon added an ear-shattering exclamation point to the event. There was also a 21-gun salute, the playing of “Taps,” recitation of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Civil War-era marches performed by the 5th Michigan Infantry Battalion.
Amid the cookouts and barbecues launched by Memorial Day, I hope you didn’t lose track of the real meaning of the day.
Quips ‘n’ Quotes: The late controversial military historian John Terraine said, “A casualty is a man blown to pieces, disintegrated, nothing left of him but a name on a war memorial.”

Henry Passenger’s column appears each Wednesday in the Tuscola County Advertiser. He can be reached at

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