Memorial Day, 2013

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.

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My granpa…

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Growth

I really don’t have a lot to say this week.  Just that life is about growth.  A lot has happened in the last few weeks and while my first instinct is duck for cover until it all passes I can’t always do that.  Sometimes I have to roll my sleeves up and get something done and most of these times I learn something about myself – I grow a little bit.

The thing about death is that a life ends but all around other lives go on.  Sometimes a death changes very little, maybe you barely knew the person or relative so it doesn’t touch you that much.  Sometimes it’s the most important person in your life and everything, everything changes.  I’ve been through both, and after the emotion and break downs it hits you.  Life goes on.  The world keeps turning.  The sun will rise.

I started thinking about all of this while looking at the following pictures.  In the days and weeks following a death someone thought it would be a good idea to plant something next to their loved one’s grave.  Something that can grow.  People sometimes don’t know just how much they can grow, they surprise themselves.  And we don’t grow out of the memories of those that passed, they are part of us, they are the reason we are who we are.

These are pics of things that grew.  Grew more than anyone thought they would.  I’m sure it’s all our loved ones ever wanted for us.

 

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This is one of my favorite pics, and was part of the Art de Morte collection in Minneapolis.  There’s something about the way the tree is wrapped around the stone, almost protecting it.

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I sometimes wonder what it’s like to have a tree on your chest.

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