Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a day of commemoration of those who have given their lives in the service of the United States of America. The true beginnings of Memorial Day are unknown, as many towns have claimed to be its birthplace and many individuals have been credited with first creating the idea. It started as a day of remembrance for soldiers who had died during the American Civil War. In 1868, General John Logan declared May 30, to be Memorial Day, and flowers were placed on the graves of Confederate and Union soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. In 1873 New York was the first state to officially recognize the day and by 1890 all northern states recognized Memorial Day. In 1915 Moina Michael, inspired by the 1915 John McCrae poem In Flanders Fields, conceived of the idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. Southern states did not officially recognize Memorial until after World War I, when the remembrance was expanded to honor all Americans who had died in service.

In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson, declared Waterloo N.Y. as the official birthplace of Memorial Day and the Congress declared the last Monday of May as Memorial Day with the National Holiday Act of 1971, ensuring a three day weekend. Memorial Day may officially be a day of remembrance of fallen soldiers but many also take this day as a day to remember family and friends who are longer with us.

This year we are spending some of Memorial Day remembering the days before Tanjiro and Uschi-Swirl when we had pet rats. Yes rats, 27 in all over about 10 years. It all started with Graydle, a steel-blue-gray adult male rat that had been returned to a pet store. Les had the idea that Graydle would stay in her office, but Graydle had a respiratory infection and had to go home with us for more constant care. Soon Graydle had decided that he was a "free-range" rat and pretty much took over our apartment.

A rat may seem like a far cry from a cat or dog, but our rats adopted us completely. When Graydle died, he waited until we got home from work, crawled over to me and died in my arms.
Over the years we adopted rats of all ages, in all colors and sizes, from little pups to older adults. Some of them came to us in terrible condition, like Lancey, who was hunkered in a cage at a pet store covered in bites, too weak to stand up. He went on to spend years with us, often sleeping on my lap as I worked on my office computer.

Over the years, the short life spans of the rats (2-3 years) and the care our rescue rats needed, took a bit of a toll. At one point we adopted eight "abandoned" ratties (four boys and four girls), all with respiratory infections. Despite the care and loss, we had endless enjoyment with all of their distinct personalties.
When we lost our last rats in January 2006, we decided that we were ready for the commitment of cats. We don't have many digital picture of our rats, but from the few we have, there are some definite similarities to Tanj and Usch...

Like T&U, Oscar and Stanley were the best of friends.

Stuart Little snuggled in his blanket
while Reggie looked over his bits of food.

Reggie also liked Dairy Queen blizzards.

Spotless showed us anything can be a toy!

Hakuba, Lizuna, and Zenkoji loved their pets.
(names inspired by the 1998 Nagano Olympics)

Tangelo was both a Daddy's boy and Mouuschii.

Miss Marple was a Mommy's girl.

We remember our rats by planting a rose
over each of them...

Mostly hardy Rugosa roses that

bloom and bloom all summer.

Best of wishes on this Memorial Day!

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