Don't Forget to Remember
Summary: A child asks for an explanation of Memorial's Day. WARNING: Slight unpleasantness, but not bashing.
Timeline: from 10 years pre-Sunnydale to 10 years post-Sunnydale. NO COMICS!
Warning: a falling out with a couple people briefly mentioned.
A/N: Went to a Memorial Day service this morning and Musie decided she wanted to write something semi-based on the service. Created an OC for an ironic twist.
Thanks to my betas: brainstormed with JacobPhoenix.
Disclaimer: BtVS and AtS characters belong to Joss Whedon / Mutant Enemy. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.
A cemetery in Colorado
Memorial Day, 1987…
Six year old Buffy Summers pouted as she watched her daddy tend the graves in front of her. None of her friends had to do stuff like this today. Even her mommy said she had something else to do. First they spent over an hour listening to music – which wasn't that bad – and then a guy in uniform talk – which was pretty boring to her. Now they were spending the rest of the day in a cemetery.
Who on earth would want to spend that much time in a cemetery surrounded by dead people?
She vowed silently that when she was older, she wasn't going to spend her life in a graveyard. 'It was just creepy,' she thought with a shudder.
"Daddy…" she asked with a bit of a whine in her voice, "Why do we have to do this? All of my friends are having fun at the beach or at Disneyland. Even Mommy is shopping instead."
Hank stopped pulling the weeds around the headstone and wiped his hands before reaching for his princess. "Honey, it's important to honor the people who died protecting this country and what it stands for."
"But why?" she pressed, even as she got comfy in her daddy's lap. "What's so important about doing it today when everyone else is having fun?"
"It's the reason this day is a holiday," Hank calmly explained, just as his mother had done when he asked the same question over 20 years earlier in this very spot. He gave Buffy the same abbreviated history lesson he received plus a little extra that happened later, "After the Civil War, people would decorate the graves of loved ones who died in battle. It started in the South, then spread to the North, becoming known as Decoration Day."
"At first, different areas would celebrate on different days, but one thing they had in common was that they would fly their flags at half-mast in the morning. And many communities would have a parade to honor the people who died."
"I like parades," Buffy interjected with childish enthusiasm.
"I know you do, sweetie," he replied with a warm smile. "Then in 1967, a federal law was passed to make the name 'Memorial Day' its official name. A year later, they made another law that said it would always be celebrated on the last Monday of May. It took a few years, but eventually most people went along with it. I'm sure there are some people who refuse to change, and that's okay. The important thing is to honor the people who have died. Now, while it began for military people who died, it's just as important to remember family members too."
Buffy stared at the grave marker for a moment, then looked at her daddy's face. "Is that why we're doing Grandma Susan's grave now?"
Hank nodded, "Yup. Your Grandpa Michael died before I was born during the final days of the Korean War. Grandma Susan was a nurse back then and didn't realize she was pregnant until after she got the news about my dad. She eventually remarried to give me a father, but I know she never stopped loving Grandpa Michael. That's why she asked to be buried next to him."
He paused for a minute, lost in memories of his childhood. Then he turned back to his daughter and asked, "Do you understand a little better now?"
She didn't – not really – but nodded vigorously anyway, "Uh-huh. Don't worry, Daddy, I won't forget to remember!"
The New Council's Memorial Wall
Memorial Day, 2012…
Seven year old Michael Travers, Jr. and his little sister, Rachel, pouted as they watched their parents lay flowers next to the wall. All of their friends were having fun right now, and they were stuck listening to their parents talk to people who weren't even there.
Laying a red flower under the column with Quentin Travers' name, Buffy whispered, "I know we never got along, but I hope that you're proud of the work your son and I have accomplished with the Council. And I promise that your grandchildren will never hear about how bad our meetings were from me. Not sure if the thought of my being your daughter-in-law is causing you to roll over in…wherever you are, but Michael is the love of my life and I promise to do everything in my power to be good to him," she vowed earnestly.
She left Michael there to say his own words to his father as she continued down the wall. A red rose and a few words for Giles – who died in a terrorist attack on the anniversary of 9/11 – another red flower for Merrick, her first Watcher, then Kendra, Anya, Tara, Pike, her mother, Joyce, Cordy, and finally Willow – whose dive into dark magick had physical consequences they didn't learn about until the year after Sunnydale fell. Channeling all that dark magick caused massive internal damage to her organs which couldn't be repaired.
Unfortunately, her death created a rift between Buffy and Xander and Dawn. All he heard was that magick caused Willow to die, so he blamed the Slayer activation spell, and since Buffy was the one to ask Willow to cast it, it was Buffy's fault his yellow crayon buddy was gone. When faced with the choice between her sister and her boyfriend, Dawn chose Xander, and the pair left the Council and Buffy for good.
Next to Willow's red tulip, Buffy laid two yellow flowers for her lost-but-not-dead friend and sister, then a third one for her father.
The next two sections of the Memorial were blank. Here, Buffy set down three vases filled with different white flowers for people she knew, but didn't name specifically. She also added two black flowers for Spike and Angel, who died in Los Angeles.
Finally, it was a section that had a mural instead of names. The faces of semi-familiar people stared down at her as she positioned a dozen vases of various blue flowers in honor of victims she never knew about or might have forgotten over the years. The features of the people carved into the granite were a mixture of different faces that the Council chose for the mural.
It had been a pleasant surprise to learn that Vi was an artist who could blend the pictures into the Memorial standing here for years to come. It was Vi's idea to have the mural so they'd never forget who they were fighting to protect.
Buffy's thoughts were interrupted by a young voice, "Mommy…why do we have to come here instead of playing with our friends?"
Remembering her promise to her father years ago, she turned with a smile and replied, "Oh my darlings, it's important to honor the people who died protecting this world…"
A/N: This was conceived of and written in the span of like 2 hours, so sorry if there are any mistakes. I got the history of today from wiki, so I hope it's vaguely correct.