Memorial Day at a Little Country Cemetery

I stood in the rain this morning and listened to the minister outshout Herefords and Angus cows across the fence. Apparently some calves had wandered off, the moms lowing and the calves replying.

It’s natural on Memorial Day to remember back, and as the dripping flag fluttered I recalled the first military cemetery I visited almost fifty years ago.

1966-10-15 Manilia American Cemetery MIA Center1966-10-15 Manilia American Cemetery
In 1966 I was a kid fresh off the farm in northern Minnesota on a few days of R&R in the Philippines. I spent an afternoon at the Manila American Cemetery. I recall how shocked I was to see more than 17,000 white crosses set in perfect symmetry; astonished at the more than 36,000 missing in action (MIA) names chiseled into marble walls.

As manure smell wafted across the graves of our little cemetery, I thought about a memorial service I attended two years later in Vietnam on the shore of the South China Sea. Those boys had been sent home to cemeteries like the one I was standing in this morning.
2015-05-25 Nebish Community Cemetery2015-05-25 Nebish Community Cemetery Memorial Day
As taps echoed through lilac blossoms and budding oak leaves I studied the graves for a moment. I think our family plot is pretty representative of sacrifices made for our freedom. My grandfather who served in WWI and WWII. My stepfather, who served in WWII. My brother, who died when his Navy plane crashed at sea off the coast of Africa while on a training flight. One day another flag will wave in the breeze when I join them.
2015-05-25 Nebish Community Cemetery at Grandfather's  Grave--his flag was missing


  1. Susan Jackson says:

    Thank you for the sense-filled description of your visit to the cemetery. Your brother is always included in our thoughts on this day and your family in our prayers.

  2. gale anderson says:

    Hello Wendell, Theresa and I will be coming to the Northwoods Writers Conf.
    June 20th to June 24. We will be staying in Linden Hall but will not attend any of the readings etc. We hope to get together with you and Patty if possible. I don’t have your new address and I will need your phone number too.



Your email address will not be published.