Taking time to reflect
May 26, 2003
Amid the wafting smoke of barbecues and long wait to buy garden supplies and groceries, South Lake Tahoe tourists and locals shared their sentiment about a weekend set aside to honor those who have died for our country.
For some, the holiday means a day off. For others, it means negotiating traffic. For many, Memorial Day means a time of togetherness and tradition. This often translates into family gatherings.
Such was the case Sunday afternoon for the San Jose family of Dan Bowman, who tossed a football with his sons Patrick, 11, and Matthew, 8, at El Dorado Beach. Their mother, Teri, watched on the sidelines with a picnic at arm’s length.
Bowman, who served in the Army for six years, said Memorial Day holds a special meaning for him because he knows people deployed in the Middle East.
“It always hits home when people are still in harm’s way,” he said.
Bowman went as far as to call the loved ones of those stationed in the Middle East a few days ago to pay his respects.
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In comparison to other years, this Memorial Day has no special meaning for Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Shawn Chauftoy.
“There’s not one year that’s more important than another. It serves its purpose every year,” the recruiter said.
The Dayton man, who was strolling along Highway 50 with his wife, Sheri, and 22-month-old daughter, Jordan, had one answer for the holiday that he lives by.
“It is to pay tribute to our fallen soldiers,” he said firmly.
But Chauftoy realizes it’s a day to relax for many Americans.
“But everybody in the military views it as more than a day off,” he said.
This Memorial Day, Chauftoy will recognize his late father, Duane. The elder Chauftoy served in Vietnam. Six rounds in the back paralyzed him.
There are other national holidays that spur patriotic pride, but Chauftoy believes more Americans find significance in May’s end-of-the-month holiday.
“I think Memorial Day has more value than the Fourth of July. That was something that happened 200 years ago. Memorial Day is something we reflect on in the present,” he said.
It’s been that way for 55 years for Helen Grind, who celebrates her birthday May 30. Her family chatted about the meaning of the holiday at a picnic table overlooking the lake. As a child in Kansas, where she grew up, the now 63-year-old Placerville woman accompanied her parents to cemeteries.
“We would gather flowers and go,” she said.
She tries to keep the same tradition in El Dorado County.
“There’s always some aunt or uncle out there to see,” she said.
— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org