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Patriotic Story
Real / Nonfiction
Steven J. Newton

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The Graveyard

One day, while driving home, I noticed an elderly lady placing a small American flag on a grave at a National Cemetery. Nothing unusual about that but over a period of months I noticed this same lady placing a flag on a few different graves. She would seem to materialize out of the fog with a small handful of flags and place one or two and then slowly amble off.

Summer came and went and the winter winds were blowing as I again passed by the Cemetery going home. Again, I saw the little elderly lady with her hand full of flags, placing them here and there.

Curiosity finally got the better of me and I pulled into the Cemetery entrance, firmly expecting that the old lady would vanish into the wind. However, I noticed her crossing the street and entering into a senior citizens home, the wind blowing her worn black coat against her.

I walked into the home and asked the lady at the desk if she had seen an elderly lady that had just entered wearing a black coat. No, she said, all the residents were at dinner and no one had come in or out for quite a while. Feeling rather foolish I left for my own warm home.

However over the next few months I continued to watch this lady come and go from the home to the cemetery. One hot summer day, I had enough and I confronted the lady at the front desk of the home. I told her that for over a year, I had seen an elderly lady; always wearing black, carrying little flags back and forth across the street.

The lady at the front desk became a little agitated. She asked me to wait until she got her supervisor and we went into a private room. There I relayed my story about the elderly lady with the flags.

After I was finished, the supervisor looked me in the eye and said, "You know I would not even tell you this story unless I was sure of your sincerity." You see, for many years, Mrs. Snowden was a resident here. Her husband had died in World War II, her brother in Korea, her son in Vietnam and her daughter in Desert Storm.

She had them all buried in the cemetery across the street and visited them everyday, always making sure they had new American Flags on their graves. I asked where Mrs. Snowden lived now and the supervisor gave me a strange look.

She said, "Sir, Mrs. Snowden died over a year ago."

Well, I don't really know what I had seen or what it meant. But something inside me changed that day. From that day forward, I helped place little American flags on the graves of our honored dead. Whatever had happen to me made me realize that someone had to remember...  Someone had to recognize the sacrifice of those that have given their all for our freedom.

And to this day, when I come to Mrs. Snowden's final resting place, I say a silent prayer. She no longer has to place her little flags on the resting place of her loved ones. She passed that on to me. I picture her in Heaven with her family together again. After all her loss and all her pain she never forgot and she always remained... A TRUE AMERICAN!
Steven J. Newton
Copyright 2004

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