I had never heard of Richard Blanco until Inaugural Day 2013 when he stepped up to the podium, emerging into focus on our tv screen. I sat on a couch in our basement surrounded by my kids, my 8th grade English teacher, Pris, and her husband, Eddie (who are some of our dearest friends in the world), and Adam. Blanco's carefully crafted words flooded our basement with images, tastes, and emotions and it made me proud to be an American. An American sitting in a basement witnessing a gay, Cuban-American man describe our country in such a beautiful,soulful way.
Last weekend we had the opportunity to hear Richard Blanco at The Writer's Center. He wooed us with his wit, his family, his dual identities, and his love of food. And he closed the evening with a reading of One Day. His ingaural poem. It was just as wonderful as the first time we heard it and the only thing missing were Pris and Eddie. And my dad. He would have loved Richard Blanco's words, too.
Memorial Day is and will always be a sad day for me. My dad was buried on Memorial Day. It was both perfect and heartbreaking to listen to that haunting gun salute; a tribute from fellow Korean War Veterans in a small cemetery surrounded by rice fields. He was a man who loved this country with all of its flavors and textures and like Blanco his life was shaped by a passionate desire to weave those fibers into something with meaning and weight.
Memorial Day is about remembering and I do.