I was on backup call last night; mercifully, the phone never rang. More accurately, the secure-messaging app our practice uses did not awaken me with its piercing shriek. A piercing shriek being the only sound with any chance of awakening me; I sleep like the long-dead.

I went for a drive, hoping to find something that said “Memorial Day” to photograph, preferably without cliché. Clearly my skills and vision weren’t up to the job. I visited a cemetery in Wheat Ridge, a nearby suburb. Its main driveway was bedecked with flags, while other flags marked graves, presumably those of veterans. Scattered small groups of individuals stood graveside, upon whose contemplation this day I’d be loath to intrude with a camera. I made one photograph of no particular distinction, a shot of the mausoleum framed by flags. A kilted, tam-o’shantered piper marched slowly to and fro along the driveway, his doleful skirl a reminder of the solemnity of this day. There may be no sadder sound than the bagpipe.

I never know quite how to observe Memorial Day properly. I have no family members or friends who have died in the service, though several have served in conflicts from the Korean War to the Persian Gulf. I’ve been wished a “happy Memorial Day” a couple of times, but that doesn’t ring true. Shouldn’t it be a “reflective” Memorial Day? I’m also conflicted by the description of “fallen” veterans as “heroes”, as if their sacrifice requires that verbal ornamentation to count for something. Isn’t it enough that a man or woman did what was asked of him or her, and was willing to put others before self, and life?

Nothing much else to say. Except maybe, “thank you”.

Michael Sebastian @mikeseb