At six o'clock this morning, I was awakened by the sound of cannon fire.
It happens every Memorial Day, when the men at our town's local VFW hall (which is just three blocks from my house) fire the old cannon on their front lawn. It surprises me every time; I'm startled awake and after three or four shots I recognize the sound and realize it's Memorial Day again.
There is never any warning. No notice in our local paper that the old guys will be shooting again this Monday in the morning twilight. And there are never any photographs of it afterward. Nobody gets their name in the paper for having participated. I can't even tell you how many shots they fire, because I'm always asleep when they begin, and after that I'm too confused to count, having been so abruptly awakened. Five or six, maybe. I like to think there's some signifigance to the number, whatever it is.
There's something about the abruptness, the complete lack of warning before and absense of explanation after, that touches my heart. The booming of the cannon reminds me of the shocking devestation of war, the horrendous loss of life. And so this annual early-morning observance seems very appropriate to me.
So this morning I was comfortably asleep in my warm bed when I was once again jarred awake by the sound of cannon fire. After a few seconds my confusion dissolved and I thought, Oh, yes. I'd forgotten. It's Memorial Day again, isn't it? And then I imagined the response of those veterans floating back to me on a morning breeze that also carried the acrid scent of gunpowder:
Yes. It's Memorial Day. And we have not forgotten.