Memorial Day weekend is here - the time when we remember those who are no longer with us, a special time.
It is also the time when we remember and honor those who served in the military and who gave their lives for our country. We also need to remember those who are in far away lands today risking their lives to protect and preserve our freedoms.
So take some time to reflect back and remember family members as well as those in the military.
For many of us, visits to cemeteries are a part of this weekend. We have several we go to from Fairlawn in Summit County to Linesville in Pennsylvania. Often on these visits we meet others that we haven't seen for some time who are there, as we are, to remember loved ones and reflect back on times past.
Changing the subject and looking back a few years, in the mid-1970s we had an American Field Service student from Chile with us for a year. Her name was Elizabeth, or Libbet, as our daughters soon nicknamed her. While she was from Chile, she was very much English because her parents had migrated from England to Chile to teach English in schools in Concepcion. Libbet could not only speak English but two other languages fluently.
Concepcion, as you may recall, was very much in the news earlier this year because it was at the epicenter of the devastating earth quakes that hit Chile.
Over the years, we have stayed in touch with Libbet and her mother, Catherine, who is now close to 90 years old. Naturally we were concerned about the family because they lived in the heart of the earthquake damage.
Libbet had married and was living in Punta Arenas, the southernmost part of Chile. Her mother and sister were living in Concepcion.
When the earthquake hit, they were on vacation but still in an area seriously damaged by the earthquake. The only way we were able to communicate with the family right after the devastation was by e-mail with Libbet. We did learn that no one was seriously injured, which was a relief. Since Catherine wasn't home, she didn't know the extent of the damage to her house.
While the news media carried many pictures and news stories, it was hard to relate to the damage and suffering that took place. In a letter we received from Catherine last week, she described some of their experiences.
Before they left their vacation area, they found a supermarket open and stocked up on whatever food that was available and bottled water. It was several days before they could get home because roads and bridges were badly damaged.
Major damage to her home was in the living room where there was a separation of the living room from the fireplace which was damaged and had to be repaired. Her home was made of wood, which apparently reduced the damage. They were out of water and gas but her letter suggested they had electricity.
An excerpt from Catherine's letter said this: "The destruction and devastation is something terrible, unbelievable, so much damage, so much suffering, so much heartbreak; the town is an ugly sight: broken pavements damaged houses, mountains of rubble and there are six tall buildings that have to be pulled down and the question is how? Those living on the coast are the ones who suffered most, many of them still living in tents and with winter approaching the authorities are hurrying up the temporary shelters."
She went on to say, "What the earthquake didn't destroy the sea did. It is amazing the strength the sea has; in the local port some fishing trawlers were brought right into the town, and this is no exaggeration because we went to the port and saw them."
As you can see, personal experiences from one who went through that earthquake brings it much closer home. Her letter had much more detail that gave us a clearer picture of the area.
Just how we will deal with a major earthquake in this country remains to be seen but we need to be ready.
Parker grew up in Trumbull County and is an independent writer for the Tribune.