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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Memorial Day. Keep the Porch Light On.












Memorial Day. In remembrance. 

A monument to the monumentally brave.

To the soldiers whose testament of service to our country is etched on their tombstone, or simply marked by a solitary white cross in a field of white crosses, row upon row as far as the eye can see. The epitaph of the unknown. The legacy of a life of service.

Memorial Day. A dedication. 

To our veterans who walk amongst us, having lived to tell the tale.

Memorial Day. In appreciation. 

To the wives, husbands, mothers and fathers, children and pals, brothers and sisters keeping their end of the bargain, waiting behind with the light on the porch always aglow.

Of thee I sing. 

I met a man. He walked up to my small gallery and stopped to read a piece titled "My Father". He wore a deep blue cap with an insignia on the brow. Slightly grizzled with age, he stood quietly and wept. He turned his eyes to mine. Tears brimming, he passed one hand over his face. I asked if he was a father. He replied, " I am. I live with my daughter. And I am blessed." He wrote a note in my art journal and left. Later that night, I read his words. Once, more than my lifetime ago, he stood on the deck of the USS Constitution, moored at Pearl Harbor. Stood as the bombs rained down. Survived to tell the tale, but instead, kept it to himself, settling into the loving arms of his family, upon his return.

I met a woman. From Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. I was supposed to show my work at their art show. The spouses of soldiers, lives entwined, sharing a common bond and all standing together on the porch with the light on. I missed being with them, so I wrote a letter and sent one of my pieces to hang on the wall in the room where they met. I wanted them to know that as an outsider looking in, not a true member of the club, their courage was to me, a daily affirmation of their stamina, their hope and their resolve.

She wrote me a letter in response. The morning of their meeting, she read my letter aloud to the members and placed the artwork on the wall. The words that followed humbled me. She told me that I was a comfort. That early that day, one of their members received word that her husband had been killed in Iraq. That hearing my words read aloud filled her with "peace". I felt, at that moment, tiny and insignificant. Deeply humbled in the quiet grace of those women who take courage out of the cupboard each morning and hold it with both hands.

Memorial Day. A narrative.

For the record.

An inscription on each and every heart.

Thank you.

For your service.

To those we never see, never meet.

To those we pass in our daily lives.

Thank you. 


These heroes.

These are the guardians of the peace. 

...a buddy lost

Women weep, display their grief. 

Men are resolute, stoic and brave. 

Their tears remain hidden, their faces sober. 

I worry about the men, my man standing near, swallowing hard,

saying all the right things, quickly before the tenderness

washes over him once again.

I want to tell him, that a broken heart knows no gender.

A hero fallen.

A loved one surrendered to heaven's care.

A buddy lost.

Tears shed for every smile and every mile walked together,

are never signs of weakness,

but rather a sign that men 

are capable of great love.

You were the hand on his shoulder.

Now he looks down wishing he could place a hand on yours.

May you both know peace and remember joy.

Memorial Day.

Make it more than a memory.

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