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Friday, May 24, 2013

Memorial Day - the Veterans Cemeteries I've Visited: Many Thousands Who Died Too Soon

On this Memorial Day weekend 2013, I'm reflecting on the Veterans Cemeteries my husband and I have been honored to visit.

Although we're humbled by these experiences, it's impossible to view these beautifully serene cemeteries, browsing their rows of pristine headstones and memorials, without thinking about the potential buried in those graves. 


Practically all of the veterans in these cemeteries, particularly those that are in foreign countries, are the final resting places of young men and women, who could have been the next Einstein, or Rembrandt, Edison or Shakespeare.  Each one could have been exceptional. Instead, they were killed while protecting American freedoms, during our litany of wars, beginning with the Revolutionary War, to gain independence from Great Britain.

When my two sons were in the Boy Scouts, we would drive around the back roads of Maine to find veterans graves to decorate with American flags on Memorial Day.  It's surprising to see how many very old veterans graves are scattered around Maine and, likewise, I presume, throughout New England.  Some of the graves dated from the American Revolutionary War and Civil War.

In addition to proudly decorating these graves, my husband and I have decorated my father-in-law's headstone in St. Ignatius Cemetery in Sanford, Maine.  William L'Heureux (picture above) was a First World War veteran.

Here is a list of some Veterans cemeteries we visited. May all who are laid to rest in these inspirational settings, find eternal peace, although most of them likely, sadly, died in wars.

Arlington National Cemetery (Virginia)
http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/

Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial (France)

http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries/cemeteries/am.php


National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific or "Punchbowl"(Hawaii)  http://www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/nmcp.asp

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial (Philippines)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manila_American_Cemetery_and_Memorial

Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kranji_War_Cemetery

Normandy American Cemetery Colleville Sur Mer (France)
http://battlefieldsww2.50megs.com/normandy_american_cemetery.htm
Beautifully inspiring statuary - "Youth Rising"

Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Augusta Maine
http://www.mevetscemetery.org/

Taps video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WChTqYlDjtI

My Bangor friend and lyricist, Joe Pickering, wrote these words after finding a piece of a rifle in the sands of Normandy Beach, while walking there, during his time in military service in the 1960's, in France.

If This Rifle Could Talk
by Joe Pickering

AS I WALKED ALONG A BEACH IN NORMANDY IN SIXTY ONE
I SPIED PART OF A RIFLE RUSTING IN THE SUN
HONEYCOMBED BY SALT WATER THROUGH THE YEARS
WAS IT STAINED BY A SOLDIER’S BLOOD AND HIS TEARS?

THIS WORLD WAR RELIC FROM A BEACH IN NORMANDY
CAME FROM THE SEA INVASION THAT CHANGED HISTORY
WHO CARRIED THIS RIFLE AND FROM WHAT DISTANT LAND?
DID HE GRIP THIS RIFLE TIGHTLY AS HE CHARGED ONTO THE SAND?
  
CHORUS:

IF THIS RIFLE COULD TALK WHAT TALES IT WOULD TELL
OF MEN LIVING AND DYING IN A MAN MADE HELL
THEY CAME TO FREE LIBERTY FROM THE IRON GRIP OF TYRANNY
BUT WHAT A PRICE THOSE MEN PAID TO KEEP US FREE

DID HE CLIMB UP THE CLIFFS WHERE THE GERMAN BUNKERS REMAIN
OR DID HE SPILL HIS GUTS ON THE BEACH IN A HELLISH WORLD OF PAIN?
HAD THIS MAN FOUGHT THROUGH THE WAR LIKE MY UNCLE HAD DONE
RETURNING HOME WITH A FULL HEART KNOWING FREEDOM HAD WON?

REPEAT CHORUS 

AS I GRIPPED THIS OLD RIFLE I PRAYED FOR THIS RIFLEMAN
MY HEART ACHED FINDING HIS RIFLE IN THE SAND
FOR IF HE HAD LIVED, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN IN HIS HAND
NOT PARTLY BURIED IN NORMANDY’S BEACH SAND.

REPEAT CHORUS 

Joe Pickering Songwriter                                                        C 2006            
King of the Road Music    BMI Music Publisher
13 Pond St.
Bangor, Maine 04401







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1 Comments:

Blogger NC gal said...

Poignant comments for this Memorial Day. Thank you.

2:01 PM  

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