“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.” A Lincoln
My forefathers served during the Revolution, Civil, Second World, Korean and Vietnam Wars, and I in Vietnam and the Gulf War. Fortunately, we all came home. We think only one was wounded.
Many others were wounded; many didn’t come home. Today we remember them.
My grandfather, himself a veteran, used to put dozens of small American flags on the graves of dead veterans in the community cemetery in Easton, Kansas every Memorial and Veterans Day for decades. Unfortunately, he never mapped of which graves. Since he died, only the clearly marked graves are so marked.
Men and women are still giving “the last full measure” defending our country.
Memorial Day was celebrated for many years on May 30th, not the last Monday in May (to create a three-day weekend). That’s no great matter as supposedly the 30th of May was chosen to remember the fallen of the Civil War because no significant battle occurred on that day. Not that many other battles weren’t fought on May 30th.
I, however, have reason to remember the 30th. As I explained before, I followed my grandfather, Rev. John Hodge, around the Easton, Kansas cemetery setting flags in front of the stones of veterans.
May 30th was John Hodge’s birthday. He would have been 112 years old today. (It seems so unlikely that I knew, as a vibrant, living person, someone who would have been over a hundred years old.) He died in 1976.
May 30th is also significant because on that day in 1969–forty four years ago–Treva Parsons became my wife.
When I was a teen, I lived for a year with my grandparents in Easton, Kansas. Before taking on a circuit of tiny local churches, he served in the US Army from 1919 to 1945.
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 Continue reading →