November 11



Dearest Old Bolds, Family and Friends,

Greetings on this most sacred day.  Today is the day set aside so we can send loving thoughts to the living veterans amongst us, and those who have fallen over the centuries in order to earn with their blood the freedom and beauty of American life we so often take for granted.

To all my veteran friends:  for all the hardship you endured, the friends you lost, the years of your youth you gave to us, I thank you with my whole heart and soul.  And for those who lie in cemeteries here and around the world, who didn’t make it back, who never had a chance to start an adult life, may they be blessed and rest in peace, their sacrifice never forgotten.

Since moving back to the east coast, I have found a quiet tradition that sums up the depth of feeling Americans have for their veterans.

Not far from my house there is a cemetery used from 1751-1851.  It lies on a quiet road, on the edge of a forest.  No house overlooks it, no church guards its stone borders.  Most of the grave markers are cut in that familiar, mocked form we see every Halloween: tall, long, and rounded on top, sometimes doubled for a man and his wife.   They sway and tip.  Some have fallen and shattered.  The names are often barely legible; the inscribed glyphs at times banal, at times puritanical, forbidding, and sometimes frightening.

In this cemetery lie a multitude of French and Indian War (1754-1763) and Revolutionary War (1775-1783) veterans.  These men left their farms and families to fight highly professional and experienced troops and fearsome Indians under gruesome conditions, without any of the support soldiers have come to expect in recent centuries:  regular pay, adequate clothing and equipment, advanced weaponry, or even the most basic of medical care.  They couldn’t always stay in touch with their families; there were no phones, or telegraphs, and some did not even know how to write.  The burden of working a subsistence farm, in a harsh climate, fell to the women and children, who were not always able to survive the absence of their men.  Knowing that it could cost them not only their lives, but the lives of their families, and their economic survival, these men left to fight.  Against overwhelming odds.

For an ideal.  A dream thought impossible to achieve by most of the world.  To establish a democracy (a democracy!!!) the likes of which had not been seen since ancient Rome.

They fought for their children and their children’s children.  And many of them died.  On the battlefield, or from wounds that could not be treated with modern medicine; no pain medication, no antibiotics.  They died from malnutrition and exposure.

For us.  For you and me.

At this lonely cemetery somebody comes and tends the grass, and keeps the forest at bay.  And some unseen, loving hands plant a beautiful American flag by the grave of every veteran.  When a grave marker no longer serves, they request a marble replacement from the federal government, just like the ones you see at Arlington Cemetery.

Who does this, I do not know.

But I love and cherish whoever does it as if they were a member of my family.

Today is Veterans Day, World War I’s Armistice Day.  Won’t you take some time, a few minutes out of the mad rush between shopping trips, checking your cell phone, your email, your Twitter, your Facebook, watching television, or doing whatever else might keep you from actually being here and now, and thank these men and women whose sacrifice has enabled us to live a life of ease and comfort and freedom?

Won’t you buy a few flowers, and give them to someone who served, or who died, to make your incredibly blessed American life possible?

In deepest gratitude,

Heather

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