I am actually writing this post in the Evergreen Cemetery in Leadville, Colorado, which is the home of many firsts for me. For starters, it’s the first time I’ve typed on a computer in a cemetery. It’s also the first time I’ve come across exposed bones, but that’s a whole different post.
It’s Memorial Day weekend and I’ve tried several times in the past to write an essay about veterans but I always end up being too emotional. Like, actually crying too much to finish. I am thinking if I keep this short I may get through it.
I served a short term in the military but it was considered a peace time service. I didn’t serve in any wars or conflicts. It still changed my life. As you can imagine there were people from all walks of life, many good men and women, some screw-ups, idiots, assholes, and few who couldn’t tie their boots without instructions but there was thing I knew – each and every one of them was dedicated and had my back, and I had theirs. Our lives were never at risk so I can only imagine what more hardened veterans have gone through.
A line kept going through my head today and I don’t know where I’ve heard and I have no internet up here to look it up but it goes like this:
“And once a year they shed a tear and plant a little flag…”
So, I do see many people here, planting flags at veteran’s graves. They are smiling and talking and making plans. Planting a flag was just on their list of things to do today. I know they care, and in another time or if they were alone they may be choking back tears as I am right now.
I know Memorial Day is the day set aside for this, but we should also remember that every day we live, every Thursday, every May 12th, every October, and every day we nap and mow the lawn and go shopping or work hard for our wages, all these days are because of veterans, and veterans have sacrificed all these days so that the average schmuck like me can have them.
Today I saw civil war grave markers made out of wood, and someone took the time to repaint the name, rank, and date on many of them. Some were too faded to make out any more. Nearby granite markers bear the names of World War I and II vets, and one from the Spanish-American war. They spanned a century. Brothers in arms, laid to rest, at last.
I may not know their names, but I know the life they gave me.
And once again, I am crying too hard to finish. Below are pictures without captions, because I can say no more.