This Memorial Day, I hope you’ll take a moment to remember, to pray for, all those who have fallen in the line of fire—not just “our” men and boys, wives and daughters, but all of those who have fallen, everywhere around the world.
Written: Memorial Day, 2009
My mother grew up with photos of a dapper dresser and memories of comedy acts, shared songs of Scotland, her dream visitations the strongest vestiges of the man she called Daddy. My grandfather, George, died in World War II when my mother was seven.
A Scotsman by birth, and American by the choice of parents looking for a better life, George came to this country at seven; bright red curls and a brogue that—from what I understand—he never lost.
At a young age, with two children and a wife at home, every inch an American patriot, George became a tank-gunner fighting on the right side of the “good war.”
Many years later on the Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament my mother was mysteriously tracked down after decades of waiting for confirmation and some acknowledgment of her heinous loss. She was given a purple heart in recognition of the red blood her father, the Scotsman, spilled in the name of America, the land he now called home.
My mother’s mother was a woman I called Grandma, but only met a few times. After the death of George, the grandfather I never met, my grandmother never fell in love again.
My grandfather burned to death, the tank he manned becoming it’s own crematorium. There wasn’t even a body to send home.
One Folded Flag
Last year my grandmother died
and my mother received a box
unceremonious cardboard, innocuous
holding her father’s only remains –
an artfully folded flag
a clan tartan and crest
a heart on a purple ribbon
a pile of letters home.
We touched the flag,
hand sewn, perfect
folded just that way since 1944
and prayed silently
a seven year old girl
awaits the return of her daddy from foreign soil
Or, in a land half a world away
bombs blasting in the distance
May he return whole.
Let no more daughters wait a lifetime
for a flag
a medal on a purple ribbon
a pile of letters.
May no more widows mourn
alone and brittle, hopelessly waiting
sitting for 75 years
at a window she knows will never be filled
with the endlessly dreamed of