My grandpa (Buster/Grandpa), my grandma’s brother (Uncle Johnny), and her father were all Vets. Every year for as long as I can remember my family has gone up to the cemetery Memorial Day weekend and cleaned up Uncle Johnny and grandma’s dad’s gravesites. When Buster died in April 2008, he was buried in the same cemetery and became part of the grave-cleaning tradition.
In 2009, the Memorial Day Weekend visit was especially emotional. It was the first Memorial Day visit we had had since Grandpa’s footstone had been put in. Seeing the flag next to his name brought out a lot of emotions in all of us. For me, seeing an old veteran hobbling around and and stopping at the graves of every service man and woman was particularly emotional.
After that visit, I wrote a poem that I like to share every Memorial Day.
The hobbling man gives me
a lonesome nod:
recognition of my lingering gaze
as the rest tend to Grandpa’s grave.
Grass is trimmed,
a bouquet placed next to the flapping flag,
and mud is wiped away,
revealing “MM2 US NAVY.”
Grief falls from my eyes as I mourn
a nation of heroes beneath the earth.
My eyes return to the old man
who pauses at every flag-adorned grave.
He, too, is mourning
the price our country has paid.