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One for our Service Men and Women

    • 611 posts
    July 7, 2012 5:18 PM PDT
    Well, I missed posting this on July 4th but I'm going to share it now. I got it from an old Marine friend from way back. Hope you enjoy it...

    My friend Kevin and I are volunteers at a National cemetery in Oklahoma and we put in a few days a month in a 'slightly larger' uniform. Today had been a long, long day and I just wanted to get the day over with and go down to Smokey's and have a cold one. Sneaking a look at my watch I saw the time, 16:55. Five minutes to go before the cemetery gates are closed for the day. Full dress was hot in the August sun. The Oklahoma summertime was as bad as ever, the heat and humidity were at the same level, both too high.
    A car pulled into the drive, '69 or '70 model Cadillac Deville and it looked factory-new. She pulled into the parking lot at a snail's pace. An old woman got out so slow I thought she was paralyzed. She had a cane and a sheaf of flowers, it looked like about four or five bunches as best I could tell.
    I couldn't help myself. The thought came unwanted and left a slightly bitter taste. “She's going to spend an hour here and for this old soldier, my hip hurts like hell and I'm ready to get out of here right now!” But for this day, my duty was to assist anyone coming in. Kevin would lock the 'In' gate and if I could hurry the old biddy along, we might make it to Smokey's in time.
    I broke post attention. My hip made gritty noises when I took the first step and the pain went up a notch. I must have made a real military sight; a middle-aged man with a small pot gut and half a limp, in Marine full-dress uniform. It had lost its razor creases about thirty minutes after I began the watch at the cemetery.
    I stopped in front of her, halfway up the walk. She looked up at me with an old woman's squint. “Ma'am, may I assist you in any way?”
    She took long enough to answer. “Yes, son. Can you carry these flowers? I seem to be moving a tad slow these days.”
    ”My pleasure, ma'am.” (Well, it wasn't too much of a lie.)
    She looked at me again. “Marine, where were you stationed?”
    “Vietnam, ma'am. Ground pounder. '69 to '71.”
    She looked at my service ribbons. “Wounded in action, I see. Well done, Marine. I'll be as quick as I can.'
    I lied a little bigger: 'No hurry, ma'am.'
    She smiled and winked at me. “Son, I'm 85-years-old and I can tell a lie from a long way off. Let's get this done. It might be the last time I can do this. My name's Joanne Wieserman, and I've a few Marines I'd like to see one more time”
    “Yes, ma'am. At your service.”
    She headed for the World War I section, stopping at a stone. She picked one of the flower bunches out of my arm and laid it on top of the stone. She murmured something I couldn't quite make out. The name on the marble was Donald S. Davidson, USMC: France 1918.
    She turned away and made a straight line for the World War II section, stopping at one stone. I saw a tear slowly tracking its way down her cheek. She put a bunch on a stone; the name was Stephen X. Davidson, USMC, 1943.
    She went up the row a ways and laid another bunch on a stone, Stanley J. Wieserman, USMC, 1944. She paused for a second and more tears flowed.
    ”Two more, son, and we'll be done.”
    I almost didn't say anything but, ”Yes, ma'am. Take your time.”
    She looked confused. “Where's the Vietnam section, son? I seem to have lost my way.”

    I pointed with my chin. ”That way, ma'am.”
    “Oh!” She chuckled quietly. “Son, me and old age ain't too friendly.”
    She headed down the walk I'd pointed at. She stopped at a couple of stones before she found the ones she wanted. She placed a bunch on Larry Wieserman, USMC, 1968 and the last on Darrel Wieserman, USMC 1970. She stood there and murmured a few words I still couldn't make out and more tears flowed.
    “OK, son, I'm finished. Get me back to my car and you can go home.”
    “Yes, ma'am. If I may ask, were those your kinfolk?”
    She paused. “Yes, Donald Davidson was my father, Stephen was my uncle, Stanley was my husband, Larry and Darrel were our sons. All killed in action, all Marines.”
    She stopped speaking. Whether she had finished, or couldn't finish, I didn't know. She made her way to her car, slowly and painfully. I waited for a polite distance to come between us and then double-timed it over to Kevin, waiting by our car.
    “Get to the 'Out' gate quick. I have something I've got to do.” Kevin started to say something, but saw the look I gave him. He broke the rules to get us there down the service road fast. We beat her. She hadn't made it around the rotunda yet.
    “Kevin, stand at attention next to the gatepost. Follow my lead.” I humped it across the drive to the other post.
    When the Cadillac came puttering around from the hedges and began the short straight traverse to the gate, I called in my best Gunnery Sergeant’s voice: “Tennn Hut! Preeesent Haaaarms!” I have to hand it to Kevin; he never blinked an eye--full dress attention and a salute that would have made his DI proud.
    She drove through that gate with two old worn-out soldiers giving her a send-off she deserved, for service rendered to her country, and for knowing duty, honor and sacrifice far beyond the realm of most.
    I am not sure, but I think I saw a salute returned from inside that Cadillac.
    Instead of “The End” just think of “Taps.”
    As a final thought on my part, let me share a favorite prayer: “Lord, keep our servicemen and women safe, whether they serve at home or overseas. Hold them in your loving hands and protect them as they protect us.”
    Let's all keep those currently serving and those who have gone before in our thoughts. They are the reason for the many freedoms we enjoy.
    “In God We Trust.”
  • July 7, 2012 5:40 PM PDT
    Outstanding post, my Friend!!
    • 7 posts
    July 7, 2012 7:07 PM PDT

    Damn Edge...

    Ride Free

  • July 8, 2012 3:07 AM PDT
    A Good Post, Thanks...
  • July 8, 2012 3:51 AM PDT
    Edge really good story! A reminder to look beyond yourself and see the real picture, as well as a lesson in patients and what it means to truly give just to give. A little compassion goes a very long way so don't be afraid to reach out and touch someone for there is much beauty in this world once we step out of our miserable little lives. Volunteers are the heart of our country, always have been always will be. Thanks to you that have voluteered to give all that you can give. have a great one

  • July 8, 2012 3:54 AM PDT
    Seen this before, brings a lump and a tear everytime.
  • July 8, 2012 4:08 AM PDT
    Those of us who were never called upon to serve can never do enough to pay the dept owed to those who have.
    So many of us owe a small few such a debt of honor and respect.

    If honor and respect flowed from our hearts like a pure river of gratitude for an eternity the vast emptiness of the debt could never be filled.

    So few, gave so much, for so many.
    • 658 posts
    July 8, 2012 4:23 AM PDT
    Thanks Edge, Awsome post!!!  
    • 81 posts
    July 8, 2012 12:37 PM PDT
    Great post. Thank You.
  • July 8, 2012 3:07 PM PDT
    Amen and very good post.
    • 2991 posts
    July 8, 2012 6:41 PM PDT
    This post reminds one of the greater sacrifices made by those not in uniform,are as great and demand as much courage & fortitude as any soldier under fire, my hats off to all the ladys who make this world a better place & to all our troops past & present who have served our country with honor & dignity !
    • 1161 posts
    July 13, 2012 7:37 PM PDT
    Had to stop reading until the tears dried up so I could see again. GREAT POST Edge!
    • 611 posts
    July 14, 2012 5:24 AM PDT
    Yeah Mr Seakers, my screen got blurry too... Just couldn't help it...
    Thanx for the kind words...
    Edge "BlearyEyed" Walker

    Had to stop reading until the tears dried up so I could see again. GREAT POST Edge!

  • July 14, 2012 8:25 AM PDT
    Thank you Edgewalker54!
  • July 15, 2012 1:03 AM PDT
    You do our service men and women proud edge, this grunt certainly appreciates your dedication!
  • July 17, 2012 5:16 AM PDT
    Outstanding Egde.....Just Outstanding!
  • July 17, 2012 6:12 AM PDT
    Edge - thanks for the reminder!
    "They also serve - who stay at home and wait for the soldier's return." - anon

    USAF '80-'92