Monday, May 28, 2012

The Memorial Day Visit

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

from For The Fallen by Robert Laurence Binyon

When I was much younger and fresh out of the Marines, I remember driving by a cemetery full of American flags. The sight, the color, the breeze, the movement atop every grave. Since I had never seen anything like it, I pulled in and stopped.

For some reason, I started walking the graves, reading the stones, the names, the dates, seeing which ones were veterans, from which war. Of course wondering if there were those my age?

A few rows over from where I was, I saw an old woman sitting on a stone bench just looking at a headstone. She said quietly just taking in the moment.

Though there were many others there that day, for some reason, she looked up at me and nodded a small smile. I nodded and tried to smile back. In her hands was a rosary and what looked like some tissue. 

I have no idea why, but I found myself slowly making my way over to her. I guess I wanted to see the stone she was looking at so peacefully.

She said, "he's my husband."

I nodded looking at the date on the stone.

"He died after being home for only a few weeks. He was wounded and shipped back to the states. We all thought he would be fine."

I listened, and didn't say a word.

"He was overseas. He was a Soldier, a mechanic." She smiled.  "He worked on airplanes. He loved airplanes. He was a good man."

She took in a breath and slowly sighed, "We were so young. We were so happy. He died so young."

I looked at her, and watched the years in her eyes as a tear streamed down her cheek.

"We were married before he went overseas. We had only a short time together. We knew he might not come back. We were glad he did. I'm still proud that he went. Then when he came home, so many surgeries later, he still died. For us."

I nodded sitting beside her. I saw that he was in the US ARMY, a Corporal.

She reached up to wipe a tear. "He died for me, and our daughter. For all of us I guess. He is still the man of my dreams. He's my hero. After all of these years, he's still my hero."

"Lest we forget, Thank you," I said.

She reached over and clutched my hand, and said, "Thank You."

Then she stood and looked into my eyes, smiled and nodded. Her grandson came over to help her as she walked away.

Tom Correa

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