Three tours of duty
And a silver star
Brought him back home with his battle scars
He stepped off the plane
In his combat boots
He saluted the red, the white and blue
And the whole town cheered
And his mama cried
Another hometown boy
Made it home alive
Got his picture in the paper and the headline read “Welcome Back All-American Kid”
This song is for those who never did
Come back all-American kids
– Garth Brooks
Monday 27 May
The final Monday of May is Memorial Day, a public holiday where Americans stop to honour those who have fallen on battlefields both near and far – from the American Revolution, through the Civil War, First and Second World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and modern-day conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere.
To put an Australian spin on it, it’s America’s version of Anza Day, except Memorial Day doesn’t mark any particular battle, unlike Anzac Day (for my American friends – Anzac Day is April 25, the day Australian forces landed on Gallipoli in 1915).
I slept nine solid hours and went for a walk around the streets. It was a beautiful morning in Indianapolis, with absolutely zero sign of the rain that was supposed to have fallen. Just like yesterday, the forecasters got it wrong. A lot of people will be out on picnics, at the lake, the beach, all over today, as the nation pauses to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Memorial Day is also the unofficial start of summer.
We left Indianapolis mid-morning, after one last stop at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for some photos, and the weather was pretty good. By the time we reached the Indiana-Illinois state line – after a lunch stop at Denny’s – it looked like the end of the world. How bad was it, exactly? Well, we each received a tornado warning on our phones. Welcome to the Midwest, Kat!
The weather came hard for a good twenty or thirty minutes. It was the sort of storm that the Midwest is famous for, and out the other side, it was actually sunny. For a little while, anyway. Then it started raining again. And kept raining. The closer we got to the Wheaton/Naperville area, the worse the weather was. There’s clearly been a tonne of rain recently – the lakes and creeks are overflowing.
Arriving in the western suburbs of Chicago, we went straight to Brian and Debbie’s house for dinner. Connor, Jamie and Will also joined us – and they were looking fantastic in their Australian attire. Especially Connor, rocking his Swans jersey. It was great to see them all, but especially Brian, who has come out the other side of some pretty serious medical issues of late, and I was very happy to see him on his feet.
We had a really nice evening with lots of good conversation and a home-cooked meal, which was great after a lot of days in a row eating in restaurants and the like. It’s always nice to come back to Chicago and be welcomed by everyone. The city, and particularly it’s western suburbs, has become something of a second home for me over the years, full of great memories and it’s shaping up to be another fun week here.
Also shaping up to be a good night’s sleep – time to recoup all the lost hours from our busy week in Indianapolis.