Memorial Day weekend. Big noisy movies in the cineplexes. War movies on cable, including Kelly’s Heroes and Rambo III. The 99th running of the Indianapolis 500. PBS shows the National Memorial Concert with Joe Montagne and Gary Sinise. Picnics. Beach. A day off. One whole Facebook post which showed a red poppy on a hat. 10pm Sunday night and someone has just set off some fireworks… in the rain.
This morning the Sunday Grand Rapids Press had an article about two little girls who started something in April of 1862. And there is where my story comes from.
“Memorial Day-IV” by Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon Friday 31 May 2943 West End Cemetery Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA, Nordamericano, Earth (Sol III) Wsh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sha. The eight o’clock superslide from Chicago to Detroit passed by on the elevated techcrete track. It was already slowing from 450 kph for Kalamazoo. The old man was eighty-five. He didn’t move so fast these days, but that wasn’t stopping him. This section of the cemetery had opened in 2880, the year the war with the aliens began. He took his time, pulling the weeds from around the black grantex markers. One, two, three. He used to count them. Now he just looked to see how many rows were left. Wsh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sha. The nine o’clock superslide from Detroit to Chicago passed by accelerating to 450 kph having just left the downtown Kalamazoo station. Number 47 was always the hardest. PAUL J. KUYPER (2858-2883). They’d gone to school together, enlisted in the Fleet Marines together and even both shipped out on the cruiser USFS Kalamazoo (CCH-733). Paul was the only man in this cemetery he personally knew. Wsh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sha. The ten o’clock superslide from Chicago was arriving in Kalamazoo. The old man had finished the weeding and was walking back to the start. He gathered his pack with the flags in it, preparing to cross an American and a Michigan flag to the left of each marker, and a Unified flag on the right. But on the grantex base of the first marker were a couple of early spring wildflowers with their stems twisted together. And the next. And the next. Five markers in all. They hadn’t been there before. He looked around, but didn’t see anyone at first. Then he spotted the two girls coming from the open fields to the west, bearing whole armloads of flowers. Donna, 8, and Theresa, 11, often came to the cemetery park. They’d ride bikes up and down the paved paths or wander through the fields looking for bugs or frogs or turtles by the pond. They’d gathered up bouquets of wildflowers this morning to take back to their mom. But when they spotted the old man cleaning the base of the stones, they’d shrugged their shoulders and started putting their flowers down. They quickly ran out and ran back for more. They stood and watched the old man start to plant the flags. He didn’t touch their flowers. So they went and did eight more markers. And when they started heading back to the field, the old man wordlessly handed them a cloth bag with a handle so they could carry a lot more flowers at a time. Wsh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sha. The eleven o’clock superslide to Chicago sped up out of Kalamazoo. Wsh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sha. The noon superslide arrived in Kalamazoo. The girls’ mother followed the tracking on her own bike, to get them to come back for lunch. She found them quietly placing flowers while the old man placed flags. No one else was about. The mother joined the girls in gathering more wildflowers. The old man rested from his labors, waiting for them to come back so he wouldn’t get ahead. Wsh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sha. They paid no attention to the one o’clock superslide streaking by the cemetery. But they kept on laying flowers and planting flags at the bases of the newly weeded markers.
"Memorial Day-II" for Memorial Day 2010 (DW) (LJ).
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