Copyright © Edward Riojas
Grief does not forget us.
Folks will be making visits to the cemetery this weekend – if grilling can be put on hold for a few minutes. Cemeteries will be decked out with flags and flowers for Memorial Day.
When visiting other parts of the U.S., I enjoy the occasional side trip to a cemetery if there is an old one in the vicinity. Doing so is both an alternate way to study history and a back window into the more poignant parts of humanity. I typically gravitate toward the older, weather-worn tombstones that speak in the king’s English or sport lichen-covered details. Towering monuments don’t much interest me, but the tiniest do. Sometimes the grave markers are so small that one needs to push down the surrounding grass to properly read the engraved text.
Many of the smallest gravestones date from 1918, when a flu epidemic spread throughout the U.S. Whether dating from that particular epidemic or from any other year, it is heartbreaking to find a tombstone with only one date. A newborn whose life was cut short seems the worst kind of grief to bear.
In spite of advances in medicine and the modern means to fight against epidemics, we are still susceptible to death. We will always be, this side of heaven. So, too, the smallest of our children.
We are encouraged on Memorial Day to honor the war dead. Beyond the national holiday, we are also encouraged to remember the widow and the fatherless. It is also good to remember those who have lost newborns and those who have delivered stillborn babies. Their grief is no less than that of mothers who replaced a service banner’s blue star with a gold one. When you visit the graves of those great heroes who gave their lives in the service of their country, remember also the least of our countrymen whose time came far too soon.