..and so it went...

... well, I'm back... our family mission has been accomplished... with the help of a case of beer, 1 pound of cheese, and an emergency pit stop at the Loudon County VFW post, each veteran we knew - or were related to - now has a fresh, crisp flag over their grave....

.... we met up with my Uncle at a breakfast joint in Madisonville and made our gameplan.. sure, we had all day to make the rounds, but we needed to mull over our options for a bit.... we first visited my Father and were surprised to find his grave already adorned with flowers and flags... I suppose one of his friends must have dropped by... everyone who knew him knew that he took Memorial Day, Veteran's Day, and November 10th very seriously... I doubt that any of my family would have been by to place a flag... other than my Mother, that is... still, I could be wrong... people's fondness for their relatives often peaks after they've waited too late to show it... in any case, his grave was already decked out, and I was very pleased....

... from there, we wandered back into the hill-country of eastern Monroe County.. curving our way through the steep roads - well past Hiwassee College - and ending up at the Keller Cemetery... overgrown and unmaintained... to decorate the gravestone of one of our Civil War ancestors..

... long ago, the cemetery had fallen into ruin and 60 year old Hickory and Maple trees sprouted from each depression... the stones, too, had been moved from their broken locations, and leaned against the posts of a fence that ran alongside of the bordering field... a thick covering of sweet ivy and poison oak covered the ground and wandered up each tree trunk... we battled through the curtain of greenery, and found ourselves inside the thicket... it was amazing.. no wind stirred there.. the stones stood white against dark and mossy trunks... the smell of honeysuckle and jasmine hung heavy as we strained to make out the names on the markers... it was not a gloomy atmosphere at all... if anything, it was an overpowering feeling of peace.. the aroma of damp soil, fresh flowers, and decaying leaves... as strange as it sounds, I actually looked at my Uncle and said... "ashes to ashes, earth to earth.. this is where it happens".. he smiled and nodded.. and said something under his breath that I didn't quite catch.. I'm not totally sure, but I think he said, "yes.. we should be so lucky when our time comes"..

... some people find unkempt graves a sore sight... and in a fancy cemetery, I might agree... however, I feel that those ancient people are exactly where they are supposed to be.. forgotten for a long time... but resting in a place of wild beauty... with only us three paying them the occasional visit....

... we visited with the rest of the relatives too.... GGreat Uncle Levi and Virgil... GGGGrandpa Petty... we even erected some flags on graves of people we didn't know... a few, in particular, I remember... we'd been out for most of the day, and I had just remarked to my Cousin how all the veterans we were honoring had survived the wars and lived long lives... no sooner had I said that when we saw the first graves of the combat deaths.. one who had been killed in action in Italy in 1944.. we three stood there and read his memorial... decorating his grave came second.. it is one thing to decorate a grave of a veteran who'd seen Hell.. and then lived to 87 years with family and friends around him... but it is a different thing, indeed, to decorate the grave of a young man snuffed in his prime....

... we saw four more combat casualties today... one was killed in October 1918.. another in January 1969... and another in February of 1972.....

... my Uncle and Cousin traded stories as I drove them from graveyard to graveyard... they sipped on beer and ate saltine crackers with sharp cheddar cheese... we laughed some... and we were quiet some times... the Sun was shining hot for most of the day, and when the conversation dwindled.. or the silence began to shade upon what we were actually doing, someone would inevitably quip... "Damn!... it sure is hot today!.. you'd almost think it is July already.".. then, of course, people would be jolted into more tales.. where so-and-so lived.. who used to own this property... remember putting up hay in the Dyer field back in 65?... and so it went... I wouldn't have missed it for the world...

by Eric on May 27, 2005 | Bullshit (7) | SWG Stories
Bullshit So Far

That is one hell of a way to spend a day. Bravo and Semper Fi and it's equivalents to all you got to and all the rest too.


Uncle J

Bullshitted by Uncle Jimbo on May 27, 2005 08:46 PM


Bullshitted by Princess Cat on May 27, 2005 09:54 PM

You were close to my neck of the woods. :) I'm heading up to Townsend and Maryville to put flowers and flags on some of my family graves on Sunday.

Bullshitted by Alexandrine on May 27, 2005 11:59 PM

I hope everyone takes the time like you boys did and remember the service members that fallen and the ones that are still in service.

Bullshitted by Maeve on May 28, 2005 12:40 AM

it sounds like it was a day to remember, that round of visits. and it also sounds like serving your country runs in your family.

good on you :)

Bullshitted by Fiona on May 28, 2005 02:34 AM

what a marvelous thing to do. i am in awe.

Bullshitted by justrose on May 28, 2005 09:01 AM


What an admirable endeavor.

Each man has the potential for heroism, few maximize that potential.

It would appear that trait runs strongly in you and your family.

God bless.

Bullshitted by Christina on May 29, 2005 09:09 AM