Page 13 - Scene Magazine 45-05 May 2020
P. 13

   Local Interest
AARON D. EDLEFSON, MPA
Director, Calhoun County Veterans Affairs
   As you sit in your parked car, you gently drum your fingers against the steering wheel to an unnamed tune. You’re taking your time getting out of the car. It’s been over twelve years since you’ve been here. The last time you were here it was freezing out with snow clinging to the trees and icy wind cutting through your uniform. This time you’re not in uniform. It doesn’t fit anymore, not even close. A part of you wishes you could have worn it today, but you wouldn’t want to draw attention away from why you’re here.
After some time, you open your car door and unfold from the driver’s seat. The drive from the hotel wasn’t far, but you drove the route slowly, partly because you were unsure of the route, but more so because you were lost in thought. You immediately feel the warm sunlight against your back and breathe deep the smell of fresh cut grass mingled with a faint whiff of pine. Your memory fails you as you slowly glance left to right and back again to try to get your bearings. With no guide, you slowly begin to walk. A few moments later your memory hazily begins to guide you.
Remember
After twelve years and in an opposite season, images don’t quite match up with your memory. As you walk you notice other people nearby. They’re far enough away that you don’t audibly acknowledge them, but you solemnly and respectfully tip your head to- wards them as your eyes meet. You’re all here for the same reason. Your memory suddenly snaps into focus and you know where to go. You steel yourself as you continue walking.
Finally, just to your left, you see it. It wasn’t there the last time you were here, but you know it’s what you’re seeking. It’s a black stone obelisk approximately five feet in height. The words chiseled into it start
to become clearer as you approach, but as you face the obelisk the words begin to blur. Tears have begun to cloud your vision. You wipe them away and see clearly a name and dates. The dates are far too close together. A sniper’s bullet in Iraq made sure of that. Only twenty-two years are accounted for between those dates. Twenty-two years of laughter and love suddenly gone. A bright, burning light extinguished.
You shake your head as you drop to
one knee, one hand laid on the cold face of the stone. You apologize in a soft, break- ing voice. You begin to weep. You weep not only for him, but for his family. You weep for his friends. You weep for all your brothers and sisters-in-arms. You manage to muffle the sobs, but tears fall to the ground. Eventually you stand up and take
a step back. Your eyes are red and there’s a hitch in your breathing. Again though, you aren’t alone. The others that you nodded to earlier, spread across the acreage, are ex- periencing the same emotions. You quietly whisper a few words to the unhearing stone and promise that you’ll return. You will never forget.
This Memorial Day, people across the nation will visit cemeteries to remember those who gave their last full measure of devotion to our country. While there may not be mass ceremonies this year, please take time to remember those brave men and women who valiantly forfeited their lives in the pursuit of freedom and liberty.
 their
 Remembering
sacrifice
 Providing services for veterans and their families.
Federal Benefits Emergency County Burial and Programs Assistance Benefits Benefits
                                                                                                          (269) 969-6735 • 190 East Michigan Avenue, Third Floor, Battle Creek, Michigan calhouncountymi.gov/departments/veterans_affairs/index.php
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