When Memorial Day comes around every year many communities across America put forth programs that pay tribute to the fallen and lift the families and friends of the veterans.
Cemetery grounds covered in a sea of American flags and beautifully maintained landscapes brings a peace to the citizens in attendance that their lost loved ones are safely at home and loved by a grateful community.
Today [May 29, 2023] I made the rounds to a few of those services, and I agree they serve a wonderful mission in remembering but for me my spirit wondered off to other locations where the hugs and handshakes disappeared many years ago and only a bleak landscape with a cutting wind presides over the graves of the fallen and those who served.
No keynote speakers, no prayers, no songs and no taps and this is what thousands of veterans face every year on Memorial Day and Veterans Day as their journeys have fallen off the map as family ties and communities have faded into the landscape and the journey of the veterans remains and spirit no longer resonate like they once did.
Today at a local cemetery I stood outside a locked gate and stood in silence and looked at the few placed American flags that represent the presence of a veteran and I realize that in a strange manner many American veterans resting in forgotten or abandoned cemeteries are suddenly filling the ranks alongside the Missing in Action that never came home from war. As our priorities and past generations look upon our cherished traditions of remembrance as being a part of American Patriotism, to many times now days the desire to carry on those traditions and understanding are slowly being eroded away as we distance ourselves from the past generations that held these tradition and the deceased near and dear to their hearts and communities do not support the facilities and programs like they once did.
There are many things in society today that trouble me as the loss of spirituality and dedication to remembering our fallen and veterans communities across the country are slowly falling by the wayside and the youthful faces of past generations that came and filled the seats are now mostly made up of senior citizens that were educated in the traditions of America over the past decades.
So what does this leave me thinking standing outside a locked gate? It kind of makes me feel empty as I did not fulfill my mission to not only these veterans but also failing all the veterans that have fallen of the map all across America that no longer get a visit on a day of remembrance. An old saying goes like this and speaks to my soul.
“I Believe That when I Die, And You Were To Walk Near My Grave, From The Very Depths Of The Earth, I Would Hear Your Footsteps.”
That is truly my wish that they could all hear those footsteps as we visited them but for many those footsteps may never come.
My story here is pretty bleak but it really needs to be told as many people think that all is fine as long as handfuls show up each year to mark the holidays, but we must at some point remember the importance of communities in mass, reaching out and supporting the local organizations and community groups. Programs putting forth these events must also look at the events themselves and structure them to encourage future generations to become a part of the programs and how they can build their own legacy on how they will remember our veterans in the future.
I understand the reverence of older veterans and traditions at the microphone but itís my opinion as a veteran myself, pushing almost 70 years old that I would much rather hear and see future generation sharing the stories of veterans that inspired them and what they will do to make sure that the footsteps of visitors will be heard for many years to come.
As this Memorial Day comes to a close just a reminder and a reflection for every one of those men and women past and present that put on the uniform of our country and paid the ultimate price and why our presence at your grave side is so important.
At Rest, A soldier and defender of the constitution and may no day ever erase you from the memory of time no matter where you lie in peace.
Until next time Bob out …