I almost didn’t go. After all, why waste the gas? Besides….I’m sick of crying. Who goes to a cemetery on Labor Day, for goodness sake?
I’ll admit I was feeling down. I’ve lost some good friends lately.
I was alone at home on a family weekend and life seemed…well, unfair.
I made myself go.
It’s 32 miles to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.
I drove 32 miles and then traveled a thousand miles within Jefferson Barracks gates.
My perspective changed the moment I entered this resting place.
“Well done, good and faithful servant.” This phrase began to repeat in my mind.
The breeze was gentle and kind. The grass waved ever-so imperceptibly in this holy place. Even the old gnarled oaks seemed to gently sway.
White tombstones stood motionless, however.
I watched other visitors. Their movements were all the same: They held hands ever-so-lightly over their hearts, as if this light touch could keep the grief from spilling out. Their heads were bowed.
I walked down the green rows. I looked at dates. I looked at deaths. I looked at names. Suddenly I realized why I came here on Labor Day.
On this weekend of barbecues and float trips, God wanted me to focus on life…in the light of death.
God wanted me to think about what is truly important.
I bowed my head to read the names.
Katherine, 1893 – 1963. “His Wife” was the only other thing inscribed on one stone. That was odd. No other words. Curious, I glanced on the other side of the same stone.
There he was: Private Sylvester Bonfils, US Marine Corps, World War I , Katherine’s husband. Sylvester died in 1939 at the age of 41.
When I thought about it, I realized Katherine remained “His Wife” for almost 30 years after Sylvester’s death. She never remarried.
Perspective, Laurie, perspective.
“Let go of the pain.” -Did I hear Katherine whisper? “
“Hold on to the love.”
Joseph Bisch, who served in the 8th Armored Division in World War II, died at the age of 20 on April 4, 1945, only five months before the war ended.
“Appreciate every moment,” the stone seemed to say.
The infant child of Sergeant Poland died October 4, 1862.
“Life is precious,”
the breeze spoke as it moved me down the row.
This baby rested next to a stone marked “Unknown Soldier”.
“You are known,” I think I heard the soldier say,
“Thank God for that privilege.”
I stood by the soldier and the baby for a while. Then I moved on.
I stopped on the hillside and gazed at ribbons of tombstones cascading peacefully down to the river. I thought of children and soldiers and wives and husbands.
In a moment of peace, in a place of rest,
I let go of earthly worries and focused on
This is what is most important.
In a precious moment, amid the sea of stones, I bowed my head and, ever-so-lightly,
touched my hand over my heart.