Of Memory and Hope

They come with dandelions, since dandelions are plentiful in the last week of May and may be picked with impunity. They arrive around 9:30 in the morning, and as they walk underneath the wrought-iron gate that is three and four times their height, they abruptly stop hopping or skipping or trying to step on the heels of the child in front of them.

Suddenly, they are attempting to behave like grown-ups. They disperse into small groups, but they walk slowly among the tombstones and markers, pausing when they see a name that they know, squatting when they discover a relative. The boys stand with their hands clasped before them, replicating the way they’ve seen their fathers and grandfathers stand, while the girls sometimes hold hands.

Every year on the first school day after Memorial Day, the children of the Lincoln, Vermont, elementary school walk about a mile from the red cedar building that houses the school to the village cemetery.

The result is a rambling parade through the village…They walk across the narrow bridge spanning the New Haven River and then past the line of Gothic Revival homes built a century and a half ago. They pass the gray clapboard general store and the brick monolith that serves as the town hall. Then they wander around the hill upon which sits a church built in 1863, and down the short street that once housed the village’s modest creamery…And, all along the way, they stop, bend down, and pluck the dandelions they will use to decorate the graves, many of which will have small American flags…MORE

~ “Of Memory and Hope,” by Chris Bohjalian

Image: Library of Congress

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6 responses to “Of Memory and Hope

  1. Thanks Elk.
    It is good to remember that their sacrifice has, and to continues to ensure the freedoms we enjoy.

    Dad Anthony’s flag, which came to me from Tucson when Mom passed last summer, Flutters in the cool Colorado morning. He was a was a decorated B-24 pilot in the Pacific Theater. Like many of his compatriots, he flew over double the number of missions required of him.

    I also recall, with burning eye and a leaden heart, the following. He was my best friend in high school:

    Clayton Charles Kemp, Jr
    Aviation Antisubmarine Warfare Technician 3rd Class
    HS-8, CVSG-59, USS BENNINGTON
    United States Navy
    09 October 1947 – 12 January 1967
    Wheatridge, Colorado
    Panel 14E Line 017

  2. That’s a great choice of photos that went along with this entry.

  3. That’s wonderful. I wish my local paper had enough room for something like that (and I was that good a writer). I was assigned a couple of photos and a few grafs of our town’s observance. Very difficult to condense Memorial Day like that.

  4. If that’s Amy Kane, you’re that good a writer. I miss your stuff.

  5. Hi, John… thanks! I’m just in my dwarf phase, stellarly speaking, burning my fuel slowly, becoming dimmer for now.

  6. One hopes we’ll see you again before you hit the supernova stage.

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