I hadn’t visited Ft. Logan National Cemetery in years–not since accompanying one of my adopted kids to leave a letter on her mother’s grave. We had walked through the green and white world of lush lawn and simple markers, asking ourselves how best to remember those we love when time moves on and we move away.
Memories of that day were rich in my mind last Wednesday when Al and I arrived for military services for a good friend’s dad. He had served proudly as a Marine Corps colonel–the kind of veteran who logged 100 push-ups every day into his 70s, just in case the Corps needed him, again. How he would have loved the precision and symbolism of this farewell. Six young soldiers bearing the casket. Seven more with rifles ready for the 21-gun salute. And on a slight rise, removed from the rest, the lone bugler who would sound Taps, sending the notes echoing across these 214 hallowed acres.
The first burial took place here in 1889–the daughter of an Army private. Seven of the legendary Buffalo Soldiers rest here, as do three Medal of Honor recipients and Karl Baatz, a German POW being held at Ft. Logan when he died in 1943. In catching the photo above, I felt part of the passage of time as well as the passing of men: the first row of markers are of veterans from the Spanish American War, WWI and WWII, Korea and Vietnam. The more recent Gulf conflicts have representatives here, as well.
But it was another dimension of service to our country that caught my heart as we were leaving. A sea of stones across the road from these markers were simply inscribed with the words his wife–followed by Mae, Alice, Sally, Jeanne, Iris, Millicent, Betty, Ellen, Caterina. These were the women who raised children and victory gardens, wrote letters and kept faith. Who were required to develop their own independence as their husbands were protecting our nation’s. In death, they share the same space, the same marker.
So literally, the other side of service.
May your 4th be meaningful and filled with memories of all who have served.