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Carol Perkins: Memorial Day, a reverent time

It' a a time to visit cemeteries where some we love - many of them veterans of WWII, including he Five Sullivan Brothers, are buried. The trek is a circle from Metcalfe County, through Adair County, then to Cumberland County and back again
Next earlier column: Carol Perkins: When you frankly just want to slap somebody Posted May 11, 2014.

By Carol Sullivan

Memorial Day is the quietest day of the year. A reverent time. A time when my mother and I place a dozen or so arrangements in the back of my car and go from one cemetery to another where someone we love is buried. Of these, many of them are veterans of WWII.

Someone will have been before us and placed a flag at the head of the tombstones of veterans. That someone was likely a member of the VFW. Waving in unison on this solemn day across hillside cemeteries, these flags sing songs of battles won, lives lost, and freedoms gained.

Dad was a WWII veteran, as were four of his brothers

My dad was a WWII veteran, as were four of his brothers. He served in the Pacific for five years without stepping on American soil. My mother waited for him. I often wondered how my grandmother survived the worry of having not only him overseas, but three other sons as well. Just as I think about her and my other grandmother who had three sons serving at the same time, I sense the uncertainties that all mothers of soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan must be facing now. Would I be as strong as they are? They don't have a choice and neither would I.

Among the many graves, there are always a few of soldiers killed in action. They were all young, of course, mostly in their early twenties. Those are the saddest of all. What would they have been if they had lived? How would life have been for their parents if they had not been victims on foreign soil?

Had heard names of those in Edmonton who didn't come back from WWII

I have heard names of a few in my town who didn't come back from WWII. One was my aunt's brother. A handsome boy, I've heard the family say, with so much potential. What a shame is always at the end of the sentence. He would have been in his nineties today if he had survived. Then there are those from other wars, those with whom I grew up. They lost their lives in the Vietnam War and their names are on the Wall. There is not a Memorial Day that goes by that I don't think about those two boys and the fact they missed out on growing old.

Mother lingers over sites of her grandmother, grandfather

As the hush grows louder over one cemetery, I am ready to move to the next. However, my mother will linger over the sites of her grandmother or grandfather who are only names to me. She is likely going back to her youth when she skipped along the road from her house to theirs. Then she moves from them to her aunts and uncles, some of whom I knew only by name and some I knew well. She stands the longest over her own parents who are more than names to me. No matter how many years they have been gone, their memories are like the ever-present sun.

I complained of her dragging me to visit all these "old" people when I was young (they were probably younger than I am now). Thank goodness she took me to visit or I would never have known them as I did.

Day and trek is emotionally exhausting

As we finish the circle from Metcalfe Co, through Adair Co, then to Cumberland Co and back again, we are exhausted emotionally. It usually takes me a few days to get myself back to "normal" after dwelling for most of a day with Death.

After seeing the white crosses throughout many of these cemeteries and listening to the news about what is happening at some of the VA Hospitals to our veterans who have returned with so many injuries, both mental and physical I know I need to be more cogitative of those who are lying under oak trees but more to those who may soon follow them if something isn't done to take care of them. We owe them. We all do.- CAROL PERKINS

Carol Perkins, the columnist, is author of several books, co-host of the radio show "Susan & Carol Unscripted," live Tuesdays at 10amCT on the Hoss, 99.1 FM, and is owner of Main Street Screenprinting, 601 S Main Street, Edmonton, KY. Phone 270-432-3152 or 270-670-4913.

This story was posted on 2014-05-25 07:54:20
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