Today is Memorial Day. I thought it appropriate to offer thanks to those men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country. Among them, my Uncle Karl who died in 1942 on the USS Quincy in the Battle for Savo Island, and my brother, his namesake, who died in 2021. His death attributed to his service in Viet Nam.
Memorial Day was a big deal when I was growing up. My town was small, a mile deep and a half mile wide. Each Memorial Day it fielded a parade that wound through the town to Memorial Park. At the Park, the Commander of the local American Legion Post read the names of the fallen, followed by a twenty-one-gun salute, and a wreath presentation ceremony. It was a solemn occasion and a celebration of thanks.
The year I was selected to place the wreath on our veterans’ memorial an old man, wearing the uniform of a United States Marine, stepped out of the crowd. He took my arm and led me to the memorial. Together we placed the wreath at the base of the marble column. I thought he stumbled when he half knelt at the foot of the monument and let his fingers rest on a name. Before I could react with Girl Scout first aid, he stood, turned, snapped to attention, and saluted the flag that flew next to the memorial.
The man was Mr. Treple. He had served proudly in WWI as a Marine and lost his only son,
also a Marine, to WWII. His boy child buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in Europe then still listed as missing in action and presumed dead. Mr. Treple died later that year but his actions on that long-ago Memorial Day are with me still.
Freedom isn’t free. It is bought and paid for by those who made the ultimate sacrifice and by the families who love them.