As a veteran he considered it his duty to commemorate the service of those who had gone before. To this end every Memorial Day before dawn, he drove to the cemetery overlooking town and set out tiny American flags at the graves of all veterans. Many veterans’ graves, extending back as far as the Civil War, exhibited the white marble headstones provided by the government. Some had been buried there since the late 1940s, when he took up the charge. Others were known only by him.
We walked down the rows of graves in the predawn cool, pausing occasionally to set the flags. In a town with a population under four hundred, he set over fifty flags. It seemed a lot to me, though Easton sits half a dozen miles northwest of Fort Leavenworth, which had been in continuous operation since 1827.
I thought nothing of it as I followed his unerring stride from stone to stone, but when he died in 1976, the Rev. John Hodge (Master Sergeant retired) took the memory of many of those locations with him. He had never, so far as anyone could determine, mapped which graves were veterans.
Few of those graves represented men and women killed while serving their country. Bringing bodies home is a modern phenomena. But all gave a significant chunk of their lives in that service.
“All gave some; some gave all.”
Those who died–and those who served and serve today–deserve our respect, not our pity. They gave “the last full measure of devotion.”