I took this photo a few years ago. It could be any Vermont cemetery, with headstones dating back to the Civil War and even the Revolution.
A number of people in my family in recent generations have served. We’re lucky, however, that they’ve all lived to tell their tales.
One of my hobbies is genealogy, and, in tracking one of the Big Guy’s great-grandmothers, I’ve discovered a number of family members who weren’t so lucky. Some of them gave limbs. Others did give lives, but all of them went to war, leaving families to make their own sacrifices.
I have lots of Vermont cemeteries and historical societies on my ‘to visit’ list as I try to trace the stories of how people met and lived. We do have some stories, however. They’re stories of husbands whoncame home from war forever scarred. There are also stories of mothers raising families of seven on their own, keeping up the fight on the home front long after they had buried husbands and the wars had ended. They are stories of families who continued making sacrifices for the rest of their lives.
Yesterday the Big Guy worked. My boys and I missed the parades, knowing they never feel quite the same when the four of us can’t be there together. The three of us had breakfast at our favorite greasy spoon and then spent part of the day in the garden. In our brief travels, however, we passed a few of those picturesque cemeteries that we see everyday, and this time I found myself thinking, not only of the people who gave their lives on the battlefield but of the people who gave them up. And then I thought of the people who are still giving their lives and the ones who love them and are giving them up still.
I’m not a cockeyed optimist, but there’s still a part of me that hopes that some day we (as a species) will serve them and ourselves by finding a better way.