Personal Column: National Cemetery leaves lasting impression of fallen heroes

Personal Column: National Cemetery leaves lasting impression of fallen heroes

Photo by tions

A soldier stands and salutes one of his family members who served in the military on Memorial Day at the DFW national cementary. (Kennedy Stidham photo)
Thousands upon thousands of gravestones, as far as the eye can see. Each is inscribed with a hand full of words, all that fits, to sum up a person’s life – name,  born on, died on, served in, and then a few extra words to describe them.

With such brief, trite remarks, it’s easy to remove yourself from emotions as you read the gravestones of the fallen at DFW National Cemetery. I know because as I stared at those graves the Sunday before Memorial Day, I felt gratitude for their service, but little else. They were strangers, who I knew nothing more about than what I could read.

I was numb, until we placed a flower on the grave of a Club Fresh member’s cousin, who had died serving in Afghanistan. As she stared down at her cousin’s grave, tears flooded from her eyes and anguish filled her face. Her friend cradled her as she completely broke down. As I watched this sight unfold before my eyes, the situation became all too real. All of these gravestones were representing someone’s cousin, or someone’s father, mother, or grandparent. This realization chilled me to the bone.

I tried to place myself in her shoes. That’s when I thought of my grandfather, who defended our country as well but survived. Suddenly, I pictured the gravestone that would one day represent him. Edward A. Finstad. Born on December 25th, 1937. Served in U.S. Army at Vietnam. Beloved husband and father. He be reduced to these words and those who read them would never know how brave he was, how funny he was, and loved he was. They would look at him the way I had viewed the other gravestones; he would be just a stranger. They would feel no loss for him. In this thought, I realized the reason we were there.

We were there to honor the veterans, who too often end up forgotten on a daily basis. The cousins, parents, and grandparents who lay their lives on the line without proper recognition. Strangers to us, but still our heroes.

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