One Minute of Silence

Some of my earliest memories involve cemeteries. I’m not talking about the country cemeteries where many of my relatives are buried. I’m also not talking about the above ground cemeteries of New Orleans surrounded by mausoleums and interstates. I’m talking about the cemeteries on various military bases with seemingly endless rows of whitewashed headstones marking the graves of men and women who had given their all in service to our country, to my country.

For many, Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial beginning of summer. It’s a time for picnics, day trips, Blockbuster movies, or furniture sales. However, it means so much more than that, and it all started in a cemetery. In Charleston, South Carolina, during the Civil War, a few black residents organized a burial of deceased Union prisoners, built a fence around the site, and established a cemetery in their honor. On May 1, 1865, they held an event at the site, complete with a parade, singing, scripture reading, and a picnic.

Over the next several years, groups gathered at cemeteries to honor and “decorate” the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers who had given their lives in the Civil War. It’s been reported that General Ulysses S. Grant led an observance at Arlington National Cemetery on Many 30, 1873. Over 5,000 people attended to show respect as the orphaned children and widows of soldiers and sailors killed during the war placed flowers and small American flags on the graves of the honored deceased.

Originally known as “Decoration Day” because of the decorated graves and tombstones, Memorial is now celebrated on the last Monday of May. In 2000, the U.S. Congress and the President signed into law the National Moment of Remembrance Act. This encourages all Americans to pause at 3pm local time for one minute of silence. 

I’m going to do my best to observe that law this Memorial Day. And during that moment of silence, I’m going to remember the oceans of tombstones of my childhood and thank God for those who gave their lives for our country.

* Photo courtesy of Chad Stembridge

**Thanks, Dad, for serving in the U.S. Marines for 22 years.

I Guess I Really Am What I Eat

It was drilled into me as a child.

At school. At home. At church. On tv. Even in Comic books.

No matter where I went, someone was proclaiming, “You are what you eat” like they were the one who coined the phrase.

I’ll tell you a secret.

I never believed it. 

But you probably already knew that. You can look at me and tell.

So now, decades later, I hear it from my wife, health care professionals, and other mean people. Only now, they often follow the phrase with a question, “So, if you believe that phrase, then what does that make you?”

It drives me crazy when my wife asks me that question. I hold my head high, stick out my chest, and say, “Listen here, woman! I’ll be the one asking the questions around here! Now go and fix me something filled with sugar and gluten.”

I don’t really say that. I’m not stupid.

Instead, I smile sweetly and quote the food pyramid from the 1970’s: “Well Honey, I’m 4 servings of fruits and vegetables, 4 servings of grains, 3 servings of dairy, and 2 servings of meats.”

Ok, that doesn’t happen either.

Honestly, my head immediately hangs in shame, tears well up in my eyes, and I answer, “I’m a large pizza, a half gallon of ice cream, a bag of microwave popcorn, a gallon of soda, and one serving of broccoli.”

She shakes her head, takes a deep breath, and says, “John…”

“I’m sorry,” I interrupt with a smile. “Was that your broccoli?”

She has never laughed at that. 


So I’m going back to the truth of the lesson I learned as a child. 

I am what I eat.

My body will be made up of the foods I put into it. 

If I consume healthy foods and water, I will see the benefits of eating healthy foods and drinking water.

If I eat a lot of fat, greasy food, I will become a fat, greasy dude.

*Image Courtesy of Justus Menke