Firstly, apologies for letting my blog lapse for the past few weeks. Too busy . . . too many computer woes. Just to let you know, Ole Faithful has finally been laid to rest.
So, since Memorial Day is a time for not only honoring our heroic military men and women, especially those who have given their lives in service to us, but to remember other loved ones who have gone on–I will say a thank you here to my HP desktop. It served me superbly for 14 years, which is pretty good use of a computer. When I purchased it, I did the involved and in-depth research of eeny-meeny-miney-mo while standing in front of a store display. (In retrospect, that method seems to have worked better than long hours in a Google search, reading customer reviews.)
And although Ole Faithful’s replacement has been chosen and purchased, New Guy is not yet operational, for reasons I won’t go into today lest my blood pressure erupt. So I am writing this on a borrowed machine for two reasons: first, to wish everyone a happy Memorial Day, and also to share a sad and–to me–shocking Memorial Day story.
Yesterday, I was shopping for silk flowers at a local crafts store. I had selected some red, white, and blue bouquets for a project, but there weren’t quite enough for what I had planned. Then I saw an older, well-dressed woman pushing a cart containing festive red, white, and blue pinwheels and some of the same flowers I was seeking.
I spoke to her, and asked where she found the flowers in hopes there would be more. There weren’t, but we continued to chat. She pointed at the store display of beautiful flower arrangements on sale and told me that last year she purchased a large, ornate, expensive arrangement–complete with metal flag–for her son’s new grave.
He died in military action overseas. He was buried in a country cemetery near a small Oklahoma town, per his wishes. Because last Memorial Day his headstone had not yet been put in place, his mother placed the flower arrangement on his grave. Four days later, she returned to the cemetery, planning to remove the flowers to use again on his grave on July 4th. But her lavish floral tribute had been stolen.
Subsequently, other flowers she’s put on his grave have been stolen. She and her husband began to investigate. They talked to the local sheriff, who told them that elderly women pick flowers off the graves and turn them into craft projects that they sell at the local flea market. To this grieving couple’s shock, the sheriff seemed to think it was perfectly okay and furthermore that they should support the old ladies’ efforts to make a buck off stolen goods. Well, it’s not okay. Theft is theft, whether it’s a paper clip, a flower, or a car stolen from a parking lot. I know that the next time I visit a flea market, I will view floral craft projects with suspicion.
Since then, this mother has confronted elderly people “picking” graves, scavengers that drop their stolen flowers and run.
The thieves are certainly old enough to know better. They are old enough to understand respect and decency. Have they been driven by recent years of bad economy to such depths? Or are they so hardened that they just don’t care? Why should a mother of a fallen military hero be struck during her rawest time of grief by such dishonorable behavior? This woman has been driven by her outrage to plan to install hidden cameras in the tree shading her son’s grave. She is determined to see who does this, to glimpse their faces. She wants justice, and deservedly so.
You might be thinking, all this hubbub for a few faux flowers that the wind and sun will soon turn to tawdry tatters?
No, all this for respect and honor due a supreme sacrifice.
How sad for a mother that cannot grieve–and heal–in peace.
I pity her for her plans to install cameras. I understand that her efforts will probably be expensive and futile. I know that she is channeling her frustration into taking action–any kind of action–and it is a long, sad road to nowhere.
Throughout history, war has fostered battlefield scavengers picking the belongings of the fallen. And grave robbers have in past eras done far worse than steal a few flowers. And yet, what’s the point of civilization if we never evolve or govern our behavior? We can–and should–do better than this.
Our freedom is never free. It is bought and paid for daily with American lives and American courage. We have to remember that, and honor it, or we become barbarians.
Meanwhile, in honor to this unknown soldier, I leave a floral tribute here:
These lilies are currently blooming in my yard. And although his mother will never know they have been “placed” in his honor, at least this image cannot be stolen from him.