by Claire Mathias
I was in elementary school before I learned that there are actually lyrics for “Taps”. Learning those lyrics gave the melody a different dimension. And now, as a “seasoned” adult, juxtaposing them to the sound of a lone bugler at military memorials makes “Taps” even more moving. Today, on Memorial Day, it seems appropriate to remember these words as we remember those who died serving our country:
Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.
Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near
Falls the night.
Thanks and praise for our days
Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky
As we go, this we know
God is nigh.
Another thing that strikes me about Taps is the simplicity of the melody. Contrasted with the details of the words, the melody distills the sentiment in a way that goes right to the heart of the song. Even if I don’t recall all of the words, I can hear Taps and know that “Day is done” whether literally or figuratively. Indeed, I imagine that for most of us, even just the first three notes make us instinctively pause, and not just recognize the moment, but feel it too.
Memorial Day is one of those holidays – like Labor Day – when practically everything shuts down across the country and we have a day off. But here at the Ronald McDonald House, we never close because for the families and children we serve, there is no day off.
Today I took a few minutes to read some of the family stories on our web site, and was reminded of what they face on a daily basis and why we need to be here for our families “24/7.” And thanks to all of you, we can. We’ve had families in and out all day. There was lunch in the kitchen (franks and beans, potato salad, fruit salad, peanut butter cookies) and SpongeBob was on TV. Just now, a local family who visits regularly for their son’s medical treatment has stopped by to say hello (and their son was proudly showing off his new toy).
One final note about Memorial Day. Once upon a time it was considered to be an unofficial start to the summer. Since it is already regularly reaching the low 90s, I think it was already summer anyway!