Happy Memorial Day everybody! Or at least be as happy as possible on a day dedicated to the remembrance of American soldiers who have died while in service to our country. I was always pretty happy on Memorial Day because, for at least 30 consecutive years I’ve gotten together with a couple of college buddies for a long weekend of camping or cabin-ing in various parts of the north woods of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. We’ve hiked, biked, canoed, seen wolves and deer and bears and moose and eagles and loons, listened to music, drank a lot of beer, and reminisced. As my friends have aged they’ve been less interested in the first three activities. Of course, I haven’t aged, but I still love to go along with them to enjoy the other four things.

Sadly, that 30-something-year tradition was broken this year — thanks to the dirty rotten Corona Virus — so you’ll have to tolerate me riding around on my bike, showing a few pictures, and writing down a few thoughts on patriotism, the weather, and the only person I actually knew who died in a war.

This will be the most patriotic post I’ve ever written. Generally, I’m not all that patriotic. I’m not seditious or anti-American or anything like that, but I’m more likely to parody overzealous patriotism than to be the guy shouting “RAH, RAH, USA, WE’RE THE BEST IN THE WORLD!” I like living here, but I’d probably like living in a lot of countries. To me, flags are decorative rectangles of fabric that citizens can take pride in, but not some kind of holy symbol of superiority that is so important nobody should ever take a knee in its presence. Showing disrespect for a flag is in NO WAY showing disrespect for soldiers who gave their life in defense of the country. And that’s final.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been noticing the flags on public buildings are flying at half-staff. I wracked my little brain trying to figure out what famous statesman has died recently. Only today did I learn (from the Feeshko) that its in honor of the nearly 100,000 Americans who have died of that dirty rotten Covid-19. THAT is a better use of the flag than draping it around your shoulders or flying it at the top of your car or pinning it to your lapel.

I bet you didn’t know MY Town has not one, but two memorials to fallen soldiers.

This is the old one.

This is the new one.

The reason for my patriotic mood today is that I had a pretty close relative who died in the Iraq War about 15 years ago. My nephew, Seth Garceau, was killed by an Improvised Explosive Device (roadside bomb) while riding in an armored vehicle. He was my younger brother’s only son. Our family was devastated. When his body was brought back to Iowa, Marines stood guard over him 24-hours a day for about a week until the funeral.

I think the entire town of Oelwein attended the funeral at the high school gymnasium and then lined the streets for the procession to the cemetary. He was honored as the hero he was. It would take a pretty stoic individual not to be moved by all that, plus the 21-gun salute and the bugle playing The Taps. I’m stoic, but not THAT stoic.

Seth’s picture hangs in the Iowa State Capitol. I didn’t know it was there until I toured the capitol while on one of my bike tours. What a find! I couldn’t have been more proud to post this picture on my journal.

I continued on. My ride had started out suitably gloomy. The clouds were dark in the sky, but there was only a slight sprinkle of rain. It was warm, so I didn’t bring a rain jacket. The rain stopped after a while, but the humidity was so heavy that when speeding downhill I could feel the moisture collecting on my exposed skin. Before I was done riding, the clouds had dispersed and there were rays of sunshine. I started writing this when I got home. I felt great. I felt emotional.

No performance of a patriotic song ever mattered to me more. [Stay tuned for the short comments with Dick Cavett at the end of the video. Does anybody else remember when Cavett was the very best interviewer out there?)

Hi. My name is Greg and I ride my bike a lot. That is to say, I ride my bike almost every day. I go on long rides and short rides. Sunny rides, cloudy rides, and rainy rides. I like commuting, errand-running, day-tripping, overnighting, and touring on my bike. I ride on city streets, highways, gravel, single track, and snow with equal enthusiasm. Sometimes I ride fast and sometimes I ride slow. I try to keep my feet on the pedals at stop lights and I do not dismount when I hop up on a curb. I have a roadie bike, a mountain bike and a touring bike. I try to accept any challenge a bike ride can throw at me without complaint. But I don't like bugs.

8 response to "HOLIDAY CHALLENGE: Memorial Day"

  1. By: BobinVT Posted: May 25, 2020

    Love the Jimi Hendrix national anthem. Happy Memorial Day.

    • By: gregblood Posted: May 25, 2020

      Hi Bob. Thanks for the message. How are things in VT?

      Yeah, that is some pretty amazing guitar playing.

  2. By: Rich-Illinois Posted: May 25, 2020

    Sad story about your nephew — Im certain that brings special meaning to Memorial Day to you and family.
    I tend to be stoic as well, but as you said, not that stoic.

  3. By: The Navigator Posted: May 26, 2020

    I feel the same way about flags as you. I’ve always liked that Aussies are very proud of their country but can be a lot more subtle about it than America. You Memorial Day looked like a fitting tribute and would certainly have extra meaning to you with the loss of your nephew. I wish we could settle world disputes by sending the leaders into battle – let them joust or battle lions like Romans or something and not demand the citizens/young men and women die for their political games and interests.

  4. By: Lednar De Nalloh Posted: May 26, 2020

    My sympathies to your brother, as the custodian of an only son i couldn’t fathom how hard it would have been for him and his wife. Always thank my lucky stars to be born when I was and avoid any wars.

  5. By: NancyG Posted: May 26, 2020

    Very moving post Greg. I am sorry for the loss of your nephew, and my thoughts go out to your brother and his wife in their loss. War is such a devastating thing that seems foolish in such a way.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  6. By: Bill Stone Posted: May 29, 2020

    From pandemic stay-at-home to county-wide curfew. As far as I can understand, no bicycling between 8 PM and 6 AM in Hastings and vicinity. Probably not your prime riding time anyway. Stay safe up there.

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