Read more from Lynne Cobb on her blog, Midlife Random Ramblings where she writes about her experience as an Army wife and an Air Force mom, as well and how she dealt with the loss of her father to Alzheimer’s.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13 NIV
A few years ago, my husband and I answered a call for volunteers for our local historical society. I am not embarrassed to admit that I was a bit apprehensive.
My apprehension wasn’t due to the perceived creepiness of going to a cemetery, but how would I handle this emotionally. As a military wife and mom, I’d be placing flags at the graves of someone else’s spouse or child.
Previously, my only experiences at cemeteries had been emotionally charged because of the burials of relatives or friends. Would emotions run high for this event, too?
Volunteers gather in the center of the cemetery to receive flags and instructions, then disperse. Amongst those donating their time were several members of scouting groups and some veterans – a good mix of young and old.
Walking amongst the headstones is very humbling. There is an innate respect for the ground you are walking on, carefully tip-toeing to make sure you don’t “step” on someone. After a quick search of a seemingly endless row of headstones, you spot one. A veteran’s grave marker. It is unmistakable. Place a flag to the left hand corner of the marker and you’re done.
Or so you think, “done.”
In my case, I would stand a moment and picture what the service member may have looked like, in a uniform fitting the years noted on the marker. Looking at the dates, you know if this person was young or old when they died; if they had come home from war and continued on with their lives. Or, sadly, if the service member had fallen for their country. Super heroes who answered the call to serve.
I’d say a sincere thank you to each veteran, using his or her name, plus give a prayer of thanks to God that this person put their life on the line for me, my family, my friends, for future generations, and off to find the next marker. Yes, there was a certain soberness to the occasion but there was certainly cause to smile, hearing the distant shouts of an excited Cub Scout yelling “I found one!” then watching as he firmly planted a flag and a gave a quick salute.
Did my emotions run high? Yes, without a doubt.
Leaving the cemetery, seeing hundreds of flags swaying in the breeze, I whispered to my super heroes, “Thanks, guys. See you next year.”
How will you celebrate Memorial Day?