Monday, May 30, 2011

Still On Post

Hubby here.  Tomorrow is Memorial Day so we decided to once again visit the old Confederate Cemetery in Fayetteville.  I'm pleased to report the grounds look much better this year.  Someone has mowed it and considering we have had over 20 inches of rain during the last four weeks, that is pretty amazing.
I wrote last year about this cemetery and some of it's history. 
Once again I am struck by the fact that the majority of the markers have no information carved into them.  No names, military units, no dates.  Nothing to indicate who rests below.  No way for family to know which spot holds an ancestor.  No way to know which spot to place flowers on.  The truth is, in the days before the Internet, CNN, and cell phones, these soldiers never returned home and their family probably never even knew where they were when they died.  They came from Missouri, Louisiana and Texas during a time most people, during their short life, never traveled more a few miles from where they were born.  These folks did.  They just didn't come home.

But, then there are the trees.  These ancient trees speak to me.  I wonder if they speak to each other?


Do they encourage each other to be strong?  In the face of decades of tornadoes, ice storms, wind storms, droughts, floods, and everything else that nature has offered them, they don't give up.  I saw a very large depression in the ground with the remnants of a rotten stump.  Do the trees whisper to each other that one of them has fallen?  Does this increase their resolve to remain strong until the younger trees can grow to a size to shade the soldiers?

They shade the grave of Gen. Slack.  And they shade the graves of all the unknown soldiers who rest with him. 

How long can they continue to stand and put out leaves each spring?


They remind me of a photo I saw of a 92 year old World War II veteran who had the opportunity to visit the new WWII memorial in Washington, DC.  He flew out on a Honor Flight from our airport wearing his old uniform.  My company helps sponsor these flights so that the few surviving WWII vets who are able to travel have the opportunity to see it.  Anyhow, in the picture he made a valiant effort to stand straight and salute.

The trees here are very much like this gentleman.  Proud to salute those resting there but too old to stand straight anymore.
 

I wonder if they will still be there next Memorial Day?  Will any finally fall when the next storm comes?  Or will they make it another year?  Just waiting for the small ones to relieve them of guard duty?

With quiet dignity and resolve they stand... and have stood.
These ancient guardians made of wood.
Watch and shelter the men who rest beneath
Their broken arms and leafy wreaths.
Their roots embrace the mighty flood
Nourished by their heroes' blood.


The cemetery is so quiet and isolated it seems impossible it can be so close to downtown Fayetteville. 


This stone is in the National Cemetery.  Like most of the stones in the Confederate Cemetery it honors someone unknown.  Someones father, husband, friend.  Somewhere there are people wondering what happened to him and where he can be.  I wish I could tell them to rest easy.   Because he is.  And he is honored on this Memorial Day.

6 comments:

  1. What you have written is beautiful.Its is so true if those trees could talk and the unknown men you wonder what they would say?

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  2. The trees are beautiful sentries and your post is perfect this Memorial Day weekend.

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  3. All those unmarked graves make me sad to think about. Wonderful post. I enjoyed reading it very much. The pictures are beautiful. Have a nice Memorial Day.

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  4. Beautifully thought provoking.

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  5. Hauntingly beautiful, well written and touching.

    I have a fascination with trees, for very much the same reasons you mentioned. Oh, the stories they could tell.

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  6. I have been away from NWA for 33 years now, having lived throughout the West and Pacific NW ever since. Your post today transported me "back home" when I was a girl, visiting the old Confederate Cemetary. Thank you.

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