just wanted to get the day over with and
go down to Smokey's. Sneaking a
look at my watch, I saw the time, 1655.
Five minutes to go before the
cemetery gates are closed for the day.
Full dress was hot in the August
sun. Oklahoma summertime was as
bad as ever--the heat and humidity at
the same level--both too high.
saw the car pull into the drive, '69 or
'70 model Cadillac Deville, looked
factory-new. It pulled into the
parking lot at a snail's pace. An
old woman got out so slow I thought she
was paralyzed; she had a cane and a
sheaf of flowers--about four or five
bunches as best I could tell.
couldn't help myself. The thought
came unwanted, and left a slightly
bitter taste: 'She's going to
spend an hour, and for this old soldier,
my hip hurts like hell and I'm ready to
get out of here right now!' But
for this day, my duty was to assist
anyone coming in.
would lock the 'In' gate and if I could
hurry the old biddy along, we might make
it to Smokey's in time.
broke post attention. My hip made
gritty noises when I took the first step
and the pain went up a notch. I
must have made a real military sight:
middle-aged man with a small pot
gut and half a limp, in marine
full-dress uniform, which had lost its
razor crease about thirty minutes after
I began the watch at the cemetery.
stopped in front of her, halfway up the
walk. She looked up at me with an
old woman's squint.
I assist you in any way?'
took long enough to answer.
son. Can you carry these flowers?
I seem to be moving a tad slow
Well, it wasn't too much of a lie.
looked again. 'Marine,
where were you stationed?'
ma'am. Ground-pounder. '69 to
looked at me closer. 'Wounded
in action, I see. Well done,
Marine. I'll be as quick as I can.'
lied a little bigger: 'No
smiled and winked at me. 'Son,
I'm 85-years-old and I can tell a lie
from a long way off. Let's get this
done. Might be the last time I can
do this. My name's Joanne
Wieserman, and I've a few Marines I'd
like to see one more time.'
ma 'am. At your service.'
headed for the World War I section,
stopping at a stone. She picked
one of the flowers out of my arm and
laid it on top of the stone. She
murmured something I couldn't quite make
out. The name on the marble was Donald
S. Davidson, USMC: France 1918.
turned away and made a straight line for
the World War II section, stopping at
one stone. I saw a tear slowly
tracking its way down her cheek. She
put a bunch on a stone; the name was Stephen
X.Davidson, USMC, 1943.
went up the row a ways and laid another
bunch on a stone, Stanley
J. Wieserman, USMC, 1944.
paused for a second. 'Two
more, son, and we'll be done'
almost didn't say anything, but, 'Yes,
ma'am. Take your time.'
looked confused. 'Where's
the Vietnam section, son? I seem
to have lost my way.'
pointed with my chin. 'That
she chuckled quietly. 'Son,
me and old age ain't too friendly.'
headed down the walk I'd pointed at.
She stopped at a couple of stones
before she found the ones she wanted.
She placed a bunch on Larry
Wieserman, USMC, 1968,
and the last on Darrel
Wieserman, USMC, 1970.
She stood there and murmured a few
words I still couldn't make out.
son, I'm finished. Get me back to
my car and you can go home.'
If I may ask, were those your
was my father, Stephen
was my uncle, Stanley
was my husband, Larry
were our sons. All killed in
action, all marines.'
stopped. Whether she had finished,
or couldn't finish, I don't know. She
made her way to her car, slowly and
waited for a polite distance to come
between us and then double-timed it over
to Kevin, waiting by the car.
to the 'Out' gate quick. I have
something I've got to do.'
started to say something, but saw the
look I gave him. He broke the
rules to get us there down the service
road. We beat her. She
hadn't made it around the rotunda yet.
stand at attention next to the gatepost.
Follow my lead.'
I humped it across the drive to
the other post.
the Cadillac came puttering around from
the hedges and began the short straight
traverse to the gate, I called in my
best gunny's voice: 'TehenHut!
have to hand it to Kevin; he never
blinked an eye--full dress attention and
a salute that would make his DI proud.
She drove through that gate with two old
worn-out soldiers giving her a send-off
she deserved, for service rendered to
her country, and for knowing duty, honor
am not sure, but I think I saw a salute
returned from that Cadillac.
just think of 'Taps.'
a final thought on my part, let me share
a favorite prayer:
keep our servicemen and women safe,
whether they serve at home or overseas.
Hold them in your loving hands and
protect them as they protect us.'
all keep those currently serving and
those who have gone before in our
thoughts. They are the reason for the
many freedoms we enjoy.
God We Trust.'
about your monitor; it made mine blurry
we ever forget that we're one nation
under God, then we will be a nation gone
pass it on.....