Memorial Day, Decoration Day. There will be flags on the graves of veterans all over the U.S. and the world this weekend, trying to remind us that it's not just a three-day weekend.
I am always attracted throughout the year to rural cemeteries, and to National Cemeteries. So many stories, so many lives.
You don't have to go far, to see graves of men who died for their country, the original reason Memorial Day was established.
In a small cemetery very few miles from our house, the Luther cemetery, just north of US 66, I've wandered many times. This past fall, I discovered two fascinating graves I hadn't seen before. It wasn't a holiday, but there were flags on many veterans graves, and Old Glory flew on a monument overlook others.
The most striking was that of Ferrell E. Messer, who died in Vietnam at age 19 in 1969--just five years younger than I--unable to vote, but eligible to die for his country. The grave is topped with half an infantry helmet and a cross telling freedom's story. I wonder about his heart-broken parents and family, and survivors.
His grave is not alone in those who died in combat.
Underneath the cemetery flag is a monument to the servicemen, and one of the sides honors William M. Perkins, 24 years old, of the Rainbow Division, who died 98 years ago in 1918 in France in WWI. (The St. Mihiel battle was in September, two months before the end of the war.)
Do yourself a favor and go walk through a cemetery this weekend. See out the graves with flags on them. It's a Memorial...not a holiday.