A few days ago, on my way home from work, I suddenly decided to stop and visit a little old cemetery in our neighborhood. It's located on Acton Avenue and is situated on top of a hill between two houses. I have to say that I know nothing about the history of the cemetery or the families that are buried there, but I'll find out. There are maybe 15 graves, with the surnames of perhaps 5 families at the most. Most of the graves date from the late 1800's - early 1900's, with a few that are a bit more recent.
It was a lovely afternoon, a bit cool for June. I parked the car on the street and climbed up the broken brick steps (a bit precariously) that led up the hill. I got the impression that someone was keeping the weeds a bit at bay, but it was still more brushy and rocky than grassy. The first thing I saw, of course, was a yellow-jacket nest. They were boiling up out of a hole in the ground a couple of feet away from my bare legs. I managed to edge away from them without being attacked. They are the most ill-tempered creatures God ever blew breath into. They are the wolverines of the insect world. I swear they were watching me.
Having successfully avoided the yellow-jackets, I was able to walk around and take note of the names and dates, and wonder about the folks buried here - so few, and were they all related? Folks who had lived long lives, sad little baby graves, and the most prominent one - Sergt. James T. Griffin, World War Veteran. No number behind the World War, because it was the first one and no one thought that there might be a second; this was the War to End ALL Wars. Sergt. Griffin was not yet 29 when he died. I stood there on his dusty grave, wondering what he might have been like - then I realized knew enough. Here was a son who died too soon. The ground I stood upon still held the broken-hearted tears of a mother and a father, maybe a wife or sweetheart too. The words of our friend Jim Malcolm's tender and beautiful song, "Jimmy's Gone to Flanders" flooded into my mind, and I, who rarely cry, wept for this Jimmy. I saw his family standing over his fresh grave and knew that at that moment, it didn't matter to them that he died in service to his country, that he was considered a hero. All that mattered was that he was gone. Hearts too hurt to ever beat properly again. The utter waste of war. I know that some folks will argue that war is a necessary evil. I don't know, and I will not get into a debate with them. All I know is...this Jimmy was gone too soon.
I'll let Jim's lovely words speak for themselves here . The words may be from a Scot, and our Jimmy's grave in Alabama, but the emotion is universal.