Memorial Day 2023 — May God Bless their memories
I bring you this Memorial Day thought and tell you that it is a slight reprise from an Easter message of thanks that Funeral Director Daily produced during the days of the pandemic lock down. . . . The crux of the message, with a little editing to bring it up to date, seems to still ring true today and for Memorial Day. . .Enjoy and may God Bless the memories of our loved ones and may God Bless the United States of America.
I’ve thought of Oscar Bergner this week. I first started working in my home community as a funeral director in 1980. Like so many small communities, the military veterans in those communities volunteer as Honor Guards and rifle squad members when another veteran has passed away. Oscar, a widower, but in his perfectly pressed white shirt, tie, veteran’s cap, and still pretty dapper at 84 years of age, was at all of the services in those days as one of our county’s last World War I veterans. He was always kind, courteous, and loved to talk to me about my generation and what was going on in my life. I’ve thought back this week and thought of Oscar who was willing to go to battle for his country against the Kaiser’s uprising — and be across the Atlantic even amid the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1917.
I’ve thought of Darrel Flaig this week. Darrel was hired as a funeral director by my grandfather in 1929 and delayed his retirement after my father died so I would have the chance to work with him in 1980 as the third generation of my family to do so. He was an incredible servant to the families he took care of and much of that servant attitude rubbed off on me. He was also pretty practical, but a little blunt with his advice, “Don’t drive the hearse so fast! People will think you just can’t wait to get the next one. . drive with dignity.” Darrel never thought it was any thing more than his duty, but he talked about having to care for a community that suffered at different times from diphtheria and polio epidemics. . . it was just his duty as a funeral director to safely take care of the deceased for the community’s sake.
And, I’ve thought of my dad this week. I’ll be at the cemetery today to visit his grave along with my mother’s grave as well as other members of my extended family. I’ll notice a death date of April 9, 1977, on my dad’s monument. . . .signifying 46 years since his death. I now look at that date and realize it was the day that my childhood ended. April 9 was Easter Saturday in 1977 and Dad had given the entire staff the Easter weekend off in spite of having two funerals that Saturday. He had a sudden heart attack that day and left a 49-year old widow and this 19-year old son . . . . and the viability of a small town funeral home was uncertain.
What my dad and mom (who died in 2011) did leave me, however, was a faith in God and values to place the comforts of others before my own. And, I now believe those kinds of values are just what it takes to be a funeral director and serve your community. So, today at the cemetery, I’ll thank my mom and dad for giving me those values. I continue to believe that the best funeral directors still have those values and great businesses are forged with great values.
Memorial Day —– remember those you loved. . . and those who gave you your values. And, remember those who died for our country. . . not a perfect country, but one which was built on the values that many of us still hold dear.
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