Friday, September 26, 2008


( PCP )
The grounds were freshly manicured. The chapel in order. Cars were arriving. Families spilling out of them onto the grounds. At first the children would be boisterous, then gradually quieten down. Decoration day. Walking hand in hand through the monuments, talking briefly with friends, kinfolks and neighbors, carrying flowers in the other hand, we arrived. A tough time for some present, a good time of remembering for others. In the distance I could see it. A freshly rounded up, flower covered spot that had a millitary marker. I didn’t have to look, I knew. Later when I got a chance I would slip away from family to quietly pay my respects.
Nearing the traditional National Memorial Day Holiday weekend, cemeteries all over the county have “Decoration Day”. For days ahead pickup trucks with lawnmowers , weedeaters and other lawncare items will start to appear at these quiet, often rural resting places. Some families don’t decorate, some do, but, all remember.
Though many of these cemeteries have a paid grounds keeper, many folks do extra chores to the memorial sites of their loved ones. In some families the tradition goes back generations. This can mean that decorations will be placed at several different cemeteries. It also means that many families belong to and contribute to, several cemetery associations. Many of these resting places have a chapel on the grounds. Association business meetings are usually held there later in the day. At some point a memorial service is often times held in the chapel. Sometimes there is music and singing, sometimes formal and structured, sometimes impromptu, it is always from the heart.
One doesn’t have to walk among the monuments very long before it is evident that some folks are shedding tears, if one walks far enough, one might find a few tears of their own.
It is possible to see the marker of a classmate that didn’t make it to Viet Nam. One that did. That one has a military marker. They tell me that it was a “full military honors” funeral. I missed it, I was overseas at the time.
Each generation seems to have “their” military action that will define and hone character for the remainder of their days. It brings to mind the saying, “All gave some, Some gave all”.
I had thought that I had slipped carefully away, I hadn’t. As I stood at the foot of the flower covered mound, she quietly slipped up and placed her hand in mine, not saying a word.
Decoration day is not just a military thing. Decoration day is for the remembering of all loved ones. Seems like some family’s life places them all over South West Arkansas, we decorate in eight cemeteries in four countys. Memorial day and Mother’s Day fall in the same month. Visit or call Mom if you can. Send or bring flowers. It is time to remember in the Ouachita Mountains.

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