Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day Tradition 2013

We moved into our current house in June, 2002. Each Memorial Day since, a small U.S. Flag has been placed in our yard - and in the yard of every house on our street.

Flags line 117th Street in Point Place.

I do not know the name of the man who places them, nor do I know his story, though I would like to. He puts them out early in the morning - early enough that no one is usually awake to see - on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.

In 2010, I met him - sort of.

I was in the middle of a project with my hands full when Sam came in and told me that the man who gives us the flag was coming up the street. By the time I got my hands cleaned up and got outside, he was already on the other side of the street (we're the last house on one side) and about 3 houses I called out to him.

Either he didn't hear me - or didn't want to acknowledge me.

As I walked quickly after him and he didn't answer my hails, I wondered if he didn't want be thanked for what he was doing. If maybe my recognition of his act might embarrassment him in some way.

But even as these thoughts were going through my mind, my feet continued in his direction. Despite so many of his generation believing they require no thanks for the service they performed, I believe we owe them a lifetime of gratitude and that any opportunity to say 'thank you' should never go by without those words being said.

So as he placed another flag and I approached, I said, "Excuse me, sir," and he looked up at me. I offered my hand and he grasped it firmly. I was struck by how large and strong his hand was, but how also by how gently he took mine. He was wearing both a hat and shirt with military markings, but all I could see where his eyes. I don't even remember the color, just the fact that they were clear and kind.

I told him that I always wanted to know whom to thank for our flag and now I could do so in person.

He didn't say anything - just nodded and gave my hand an additional squeeze.

Then he turned and began walking back up the street, placing flag after flag...

And still I do not know his name - but I know his heart.

So to our neighbor who does this in honor of those made the ultimate sacrifice, thank you!

We will never forget.

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