Sunday, June 5, 2011

Memorial Day...more than military for me

Image by Dead Legend
Memorial day is past, but I still find it important to post this blog entry.

In fact, I started writing it on Memorial Day, but decided to wait to post it, in order to honor everyone I could manage to remember. Thanks to my Facebook friends who helped fill in the blanks.

The intent of Memorial Day is to remember and honor those who lost their lives in defense of this nation. I do. I thank and honor them. And I also give a shout out to my sister-in-law, Lindsey Kreikel, my brother-in-law (and Lindsey's husband) Aaron Kreikel, who is now in Afghanistan...or somewhere thereabouts), and my wife's cousin, Erik Bruns, who served in Korea, and is now in Afghanistan.

But for as long as I remember, my family also has used Memorial Day to remember and honor our family members who have died, regardless of their military involvement, or lack thereof.

The last 53 weeks has been difficult for our family.

On May 16, 2010, Jenn's grandfather, Robert Refsell, died in Iowa at age 85, following a very long battle with Alzheimer's Disease.

My great-uncle, Floyd Van Vorhis  (top row, third from left) died September 1, 2010, also at age 85.

My grandmother, Ellen Jane Van Vorhis (bottom left, sitting next to my grandpa, Emerson Van Vorhis) died Feb. 10, 2011 at age 87.

My great-aunt, Eileen Becker (back row, far right, next to Floyd) died March 30, 2011, at age 92.

During the last two Sundays, I have visited the grave of my grandfather, Cloyce Lance (shown with me many many years ago), who died Feb. 5, 1995 of cancer, and was buried on his birthday...his 73rd, I believe. He is buried in St. Louis Cemetery in Custar, Ohio.

On Memorial Day, 2011, I was able to drive out to visit the graves of my grandmother and Great Uncle Floyd, who are buried in the same row, along with my great-grandparents Frank "Cap" and Ina Van Vorhis, my great-aunt Willow Marie Van Vorhis, another great-uncle Everett Van Vorhis, and an aunt Patty Lou, who died in infancy, in Graham Cemetery in Wayne, Ohio. While I was there, I also found the graves of additional family members, who are my great-great-great grandparents, Hiram Newton Van Voorhis (spelled with two o's), his wife Sarah, and their son Owen, who died in infancy. It was a nice, surprising find. I had my camera with me, and I was going to take pictures while I was there to share with the Van Voorhis Association on Facebook, but I decided not to, out of respect for others visiting their loved ones.

I don't stop at remembering and honoring family. I also use Memorial Day to remember the friends, school-mates and co-workers who have died. That's a hard thing to do, because there are so many. I am 36 years old, and not including family members, I have lost more than 35 friends, school-mates, and co-workers. I quit counting when the number reached 35, but by now, there have been more than 40. I am sorry to say that I can no longer remember all of their names.

Here are the ones I remember (and some that others have helped me remember), based on where/how I knew them). I did not necessarily have close, personal friendships with all of them, but many I did, and all of them, I knew who they were. My apologies to those and the families of those whose names I have forgotten.

Otsego Schools:
Andrew Roller
Chad McVicker

Bowling Green Schools:
David McCutcheon
Jodi Krone
Kevin Korn
Ben Gedeon
Tiina Panksepp
Kevin Wolf
Maggie Quinn
Stephanie Sanders
Travis Bechstein
Alicia Castillon
Christa Allen
Julie Carr
Philip Lybarger
Brian Bell
Tiffany Martin
Eve Eriksen
Jennifer Place

Bluffton College:
Jonathan Kozlok
Duncan Makhulu
Andy Lehman
Jacki Rupp
Reginald Elkins

Sandra Smith
Chris Miller

You can donate to the Alzheimer's Association here, or to the American Cancer Society here.

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