Real Wealth Society

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I’ve been thinking about Woodlawn By Fred Cederholm

Column for on/after May 28th

I’ve been thinking about Woodlawn. Actually I’ve been thinking about Memorial Day observances, America, “the program,” Uncle Ray, Lyle’s book, Uncle Ralph, eleven cemeteries, and our global military presence. Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. It is observed on the last Monday in May. It began to honor the soldiers who died in the American Civil War, and after World War I - “the war to end all wars.” It was expanded to include those who died in any war or military action. It also honors living veterans.

You see my hometown - the little Village of Creston - like many thousands of small communities across this land, observed Memorial Day 2007 on Monday. It was a time to honor all the veteran service men and women – the living and the dead - and to reflect on their sacrifices in the preservation of the freedoms enjoyed by US/us all. The program and the following pot luck fellowship meal had been planned for our local cemetery, but the weather didn’t cooperate - so the events were moved to St. Johns Lutheran Church in Creston. This revised location seemed most appropriate as the sanctuary already predominately displayed the American flag and the East wall was adorned with a large banner bearing the image of a minuteman and displaying the words: “The land of the free, because of the brave.”

The program began (and ended) with a prayer. There was more music than usual this year. The 120 plus attendees were treated to a duet of Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” three vocal solos, two bagpipe numbers, and a medley of patriotic and religious songs by a local group of six men playing guitars and banjos. The twenty-or-so attending veterans of various services and conflicts each stood up and received the accolades of the others in attendance. They proceeded to the front of the church for the annual reading of the names of those service men and women buried at Woodlawn. Veterans entombed out there include one from the War of 1812, thirty-two from the Civil War, three from the Spanish American War, thirty-six from World War I, forty-seven from World War II, three from the Korean conflict, and three from the Vietnam conflict. Over time more will join them and that list will grow.

We know that since Memorial Day 2006 almost 1,000 more service men and women in Iraq have joined their fallen comrades. We have been forewarned that the coming months will be particularly costly in both casualties and injuries. We don’t know how many other military service veterans from various actions and conflicts – for one reason or another – have joined the list of departed souls in the past year. I know that my Uncle Ray Robinson, US Army Air Corps World - War II, was one of them. His wife, my mother Alice’s only sister, joined him in death a scant forty-three days later - just shy of what would have been their sixty-second wedding anniversary. I miss them both so very much.

During the program, local businessman and veteran Lyle Headon, US Marine Corps –Vietnam, gave an update on his current project of remembrance. For the past few years, he has been collecting the written recollections of those from the area who had served in World War II – a local version of Tom Brokaw”s “The Greatest Generation” if you will. It should prove to be an incredible tribute and history. I was honored to type up the story of my Uncle Ralph Byro’s involvement with the Army Air Corps in the Pacific theater during World War II. There was so much that I had never heard; I was deeply moved by his story. This is a truly important project because paper remembers, so we won’t forget.

After the fellowship meal at the church, the weather had cleared. I returned home and picked up my Scottish terrier MacIntosh II (aka Mac II) and we proceeded on a pilgrimage taking us to eleven local cemeteries visiting the graves of so many family and friends, and paying our respects. This is kind of a local tradition as there were others going from cemetery to cemetery doing likewise. At Rochelle’s Lawnridge Cemetery, I briefly visited the grave of Major Thomas F. Koritz – USAF F15 E Pilot and Flight Surgeon KIA (killed in action) during Operation Desert Storm on January 17, 1991.

Last Sunday at church, I noticed a change of wording at the end of our prayer list petitions: “We remember our military personnel stationed everywhere (my emphasis) in the world, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq, and wisdom for all world leaders and peace for all.” It hit me like a thunderbolt that the realities of our times and the assumed role of the United States of America have caused our service man and women to be stationed (overtly and covertly) literally everywhere around the globe. That is a very heavy thought. I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.

Copyright 2007 Questions, Inc. All rights reserved.


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