Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day Gratefulness

Not so many years ago I was a Cub Scout Den Mom.  We lived in Gresham, OR which is a wonderful suburb of Portland.  On the Thursday before Memorial Day it was the custom for all Cub Scouts in the area to go to Willamette National Cemetery where the boys decorated each grave with an American flag.  The day we participated was a "good" day for Portland - only a little mist.  With another mom we packed six or seven boys including my oldest son and reported for duty. The event started with some opening ceremonies that included a local politician making a speech that went too long and bored the boys (and the moms), Also presentation of flags and playing of taps.  "My" boys were well behaved but unfamilar with Military ceremonies or customs and I was deluged with wispered questions throughout the ceremony.  Fortunately, a military representative of the Cemetery focused the Scouts with brief and impressive instructions on how putting the flags on each grave neatly was a way to honor men who had served each of us in protecting our country.  We were off to work.

Our group was assigned a shady area of the cemetery where the graves had been created in the 1950's.  Some were clearly graves of veterans that had returned from WWI and died of natural causes.  One was a vetran of the Spanish American War.  Others were men who had died in battle in Korea.  The boys were reading out the names and dates on each grave and questions were still comming - "Is there really a body buried here?", "Where's Korea?", "Why did they die?".   As they happily posted a flag on each grave I was nearly in tears as I thought of these beautiful boys perhaps sometime in the future becoming soldjers and possibly ending their life in the service of their country.  I could imagine the Mothers of WWII wearing their pins with silver stars representing their sons in the military and their worry.  I imagined the sorrow of a mother who's pin had a gold star for a boy who had lost his life.   I prayed that these sweet boys would be spared the horrors of war.

Scout with Flag

I was touched to see here in the Oregonian that this is still the tradition for this cemetery.  Scouts have been decorating the gaves at Portland's National cemetery now for 42 years.  Some of the graves now are for boys who once placed flags to honor the men who went before them.  Perhaps they were with their mothers when they came to decorate the cemetery as Scouts.
All our gratitude cannot be enough.

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