Memorial Day: Tender Attention Needed

 

Memorial Day - Badge

The dead have badges and I stop to read them: 1941 World War 1945, Women’s Relief Corps.147, The American Legion and more.  Small American flags flutter next to soldiers’ graves at the Milton (Mass.) Cemetery in preparation for Memorial Day. At a glance souls, long gone, wave across the acres, “Over here!” “I served!” “Me, too.”

I love walking along the knolls and curving paths of Milton Cemetery, founded in 1672, a resting place that began with early settlers and through the generations has included the graves of Revolutionary War, Civil War, and modern day war veterans.

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This weekend in preparation for the holiday, American flags next to military graves are reminders of what strangers did for me.

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During my walk, a flame-haired woman waters begonias and pansies next to a grave marked “Nash,” and a small flag stands at the side of the stone.  “What a beautiful little garden,” I say.

“Ah, the wild turkeys have scratched away all the compost,” she replies in a rich brogue.  She means the mulch, almost as red as her hair, now raked back into place.

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Elsewhere visitors in the cemetery dust off stones, weed dandelions, and prune the small bushes that mark the graves of soldiers past.  Their acts of loving focus personalize the cost of war and the sacrifice of military service by millions of soldiers.

This weekend our entire nation lends the same tender attention to the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice to serve and protect.  A most meaningful Memorial Day to all.

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Suzette Standring

SUZETTE MARTINEZ STANDRING is a nationally syndicated columnist with GateHouse Media. Her two award winning books, The Art of Opinion Writing: Insider Secrets from Top Op-Ed Columnists (2014) and The Art of Column Writing (2008) are used in journalism courses such as Johns Hopkins University. Suzette is a past president of The National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and the host of It’s All Write With Suzette, a cable TV show about writing. Visit www.readsuzette.com or email suzmar@comcast.net
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Comments

  1. Too many people in this country forget the great sacrifices these brave men made for all of us. It is because of those sacrifices that we can live as free as we are today.

    Don’t forget them, because they thought about you and fought for you before you were even born.

    • Suzette Standring

      So true, Joseph. I was watching family and friends tend the graves with such love and focus, and I thought of how a soldier’s sacrifice should feel just as personal to me. Thanks for posting!

    • Suzette Standring

      Sharon, so right! How can you ever leave behind what is not easily explained to most? Perhaps the “fun” is knowing you serve with others who really “have your back.” That kind of friendship is forged not found.

  2. So true and you phrased it all so well. We must also remember that those who came (and are coming back) alive carried the war with them until their last breath. The horror never left, no matter how much they joked about the “fun” times while they served.

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