As we do every year when we’re in town for Memorial Day, Bill and I drove out to Fort Logan National Cemetery on Saturday to leave flowers at the gravestone of my mom and dad. I always try to go on Saturday or Sunday as opposed to Memorial Day Monday, because there is some sort of ceremony on Monday that draws throngs. I’m sure the ceremony is lovely, but I simply don’t feel the need to attend.
Apparently, in the past, if we’ve gone on Saturday, it’s been later in the day. This past Saturday we went quite early in the morning – not even yet 9 o’clock – because I had a packed schedule both Saturday and Sunday. We were surprised to find that there was a multitude of cars lining the narrow road that runs through the cemetery. Lo, and behold, the Boy Scouts were out putting the flags by the gravestones. And they apparently all brought their friends and relatives, because the area was packed. It’s ok, however, because when each gravestone is marked by an American flag, it’s quite lovely and a wonderful tribute to each of those men and women (and their spouses) who served our country in the Armed Forces. It’s actually breathtaking.
We were lucky, because the rain that had fallen all night long was finished, and the sun actually came out for a bit. My parents are buried in a national cemetery, so one must be on the ball in order to find the grave as they all look alike. I have a system. I drive until I see a certain stand of evergreen trees. I then search for the grave of a Mr. Henry C. Fisher, a man I never knew but whose grave is at the end of the row in which Mom and Dad’s grave is located. Please God, I hope Mr. Fisher’s family never sees fit to move the grave or I will never find my parents’ stone again.
Fort Logan is likely where Bill and I will be buried as Bill is a veteran who served in the Army in the 1960s. While I love the old cemeteries with the big trees and the massive headstones and statuary, I never regret that my parents are at Fort Logan or that we will be there at some point. The national cemeteries are so pretty and so well-tended. I do regret that I can’t plant a peony bush like I could at a regular cemetery, but the fact that I never have to wonder if their grave is well-tended makes it worth it.
In my blog post last year, I talked about going to the cemetery every year in Columbus with my mom to leave flowers on the graves of her loved ones. It’s really why I go to Fort Logan every year. I know that Mom and Dad are not there, but I know wherever they are, they appreciate that I honor them in this way each year just as they did with their ancestors. I always laugh because many people bring out artificial flowers to leave by the graves, and I totally understand why. I’m well aware that the flowers I leave will likely be dead in just a few days. Nevertheless, I know my mother would haunt me if I left her artificial flowers. In fact, one year, shortly after she died, Bill made a beautiful wreath using artificial flowers in patriotic colors that we left there, and it weighed heavy on my heart for a long time. Sorry Mom.
I hope you all enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) the Memorial Day holiday, which unofficially kicks off summer (and hopefully signals an eventual end to constant rainfall on Colorado’s front range). I’m glad we have such a beautiful and solemn occasion to start off the summer.