Day is done. The sky wept hard over the cemetery in Flower Mound. Headstones laced with tears of remembrance of soldiers buried beneath soggy ground. Although my better half did not die in a foreign country because of shrapnel, broken ribs, bullets or the many times the AH-G Cobra from C Troop 7th Squadron came down in the jungles of Vietnam, I remember because he told me. He experienced the sights and smells of death that I could smell in the letters he wrote when I was just 18.
Still in all, years later he had an honorable death and TAPS continues to plays inside my heart, especially on Memorial Day. He lived long enough with Agent Orange and Brain Cancer, never complaining, sharing, or talking about the pain he felt until his dying days. I kept his aerograms and stories he shared at his death bed. Memories are near and dear just like the scent of boots of which clings to the soles where we once hurt. United are our hearts that once were filled with holes. The remains of survivors hurt goes away but love never dies. My soldier, like many remains at attention under ground, forever in uniform.
Did I appreciate him enough? I wonder if my correspondence helped kept him alive. He told me they did. He longed for my scented letters that smelled better than apple pie. We left fingerprints inside each others hearts and married quickly after he was honorably discharged. I think back to trivial things we said and done that meant so much and things we foolishly argued about - how could I forget?
Was I sufficiently grateful for all he did in Korea and Vietnam for my freedom? Or was I just thankful when he could fix the stupid things that broke and made me cry? After his luck ran out I raised the kids with no entitlement by pulling up my own bootstraps. In payment for his services, he got a headstone and gun shot salute. There are still times I feel the tightness around my neck. Memories of the shared experiences of a soldiers war never goes away.
Today is not an ordinary day for many around the globe. But as a widow, for me, it's no different than the many years I lived alone without family. Friends have fallen, one by one since his funeral so many years ago, and days after the kids were grown. Seniors are often lonely. It doesn't take a horrible tragedy to make us cry. But let us be thankful. I cling to the stories of the jungles of Vietnam and the lessons I learned because one man made all the difference in my life. Memorial Day really is a special day of remembrance. And God, I can't imagine a life without freedom. ---Patricia Feager
AN OLD SOLDIER'S PRAYER
I have fought when others feared to serve.
I have gone where others failed to go.
I've lost friends in war and strife,
Who valued Duty more than love of life.
I have shared the comradership of pain.
I have searched the lands for men that we have lost.
I have sons who served this land of liberty.
Who would fight to see that other stricken lands are free.
I have seen the weak forsake humanity.
I have heard the traitors praise our enemy.
I've seen the challenged men become even bolder,
I've seen the Duty, Honor, Sacrifice of the Soldier.
Now I understand the meaning of our lives,
The loss of comrades not so very long ago.
So to you who have answered duties siren call,
May God bless you my son, may God bless you all.