It’s easy not to pay attention, not to care. It’s not my family’s history. It’s not my native land. But ever since moving here, I’ve wanted to know more and, thankfully, my husband is also a forever student. So we went to the cemetery, baby and one set of grandparents in tow.
It was beautiful. I’ve loved cemeteries for most of my life, but this one was different. The flags and precise lines weren’t new–my perspective is new. My love for cemeteries has really been all about me and the peace I feel there. It’s an odd escape, a strange retreat. But today people mattered, their stories, their loved ones, and the battles/wars that brought their bodies here.
The smaller brick-sized tomb stones that spoke to unidentified soldiers, 4-digit numbers only–who were these people? Are they unknown because their families were too far away to identify them? Or were their deaths too horrific for even dental records? Or were those even a thing? Were their lifeless bodies unfortunate victims of insufficient mortuaries?
And who are the folks with the large, ornate stones or actual grave slabs? How did they get to break the uniform mold?
And what would they all say today? If they woke up to 2015, what would their first sentences be? Is this what they fought for? Were their deaths worth this life?
It’s easy to say that regardless of my nationality I should be grateful for those who’ve sacrificed life for country. And it’s easy to say that I’m grateful. But saying that doesn’t really mean anything if I’m not conscious of how their sacrifice has shaped my present tense. Sure, there are freedoms that I enjoy but what are they and what are the chances that I’d even be here if these wars hadn’t been fought or if those who’d lost had won?
But back to the dead…they are many, too many. This isn’t how the story was meant to go.