As the Writer’s Almanac editors wrote this morning, Memorial Day became “a holiday after the Civil War, to honor the Union and Confederate soldiers who had died in battle, and after World War I it was extended to honor all United States soldiers who died in any war.” But of course it has since also become a handy excuse for a good barbeque or shopping spree, in addition to being a day to honor the military and non-military dead. It still remains the most important reminder of those who’ve given their lives for their country, which unfortunately now includes the son of a prominent fly fishing wading boot manufacturer, Lt. Colonel Frank Bryant.
When the official remembering is over, there’s also the ongoing — and decidedly non-melancholy — work to be done: helping veterans who’ve returned from war unable to participate in life as they once knew it. Organizations like Project Healing Waters (“get a deserving soldier double-hauling in no time!”), Trout Unlimited, manufacturers like Abel and Orvis, lodges like Weatherby’s and even individuals like Dan Cook, Edward Nachtrieb and Mike Geary, and high school student Jasper Lee, have found ways to help wounded veterans recover through fly fishing. They — plus the thousands of anglers who’ve donated time and effort to the healing process — deserve our attention and thanks.