I stood in the middle of the cemetary and looked at the white headstones, each with its little flag. Today is always a hard day to drive by here. I see the small fluttering flags and I have to stop. The car door opens and I get out to walk among the headstones. Each with a little bit of words on them. Who they were, and when they died in service to this country. No where are their deeds recounted. Over here is Tommy, he died at Guadalcanal, and there is Billy. He bought it at Verdun. Over there is George, he fell in the Ardan Forest in the First World War. And in the outer row is John Jr. He lost his life at Da Nang. And don't forget Chuck. He was on the Frozen Chosin in Korea. The names call out silently to me. They are there in mustered ranks as I walk through. Each has his or her story to tell. There is Tammy. She was a nurse in Saudi when the bomb hit and over here is Lisa. She was a yeoman in the barracks at Dahrain. I step amongst old friends and wonder who will know their stories when I am gone. Seems like I knew them all. I learned their stories when their bodies came home and my honor guard helped lay them to rest. I am the one that puts out the flags each year and each year I want to tell someone about each of them. But I am just a crazy old man to most of the teenagers in town. They think I am lost in the past. I shade my eyes and look up at the flagpole that stands in the middle of the circle of white. I look up at the snapping stars and the waving bars. I look up and then I realize. Their story is right up there at the top of that silvery pole. Their story is liberty. Their story is the fact that we are here. That is what needs to be told and it is each sunrise. Their history is reaffirmed each time we fold that flag at night and lay it with respect away until the next sunrise. That flag is their story and their legacy. I know that there will be other markers around this flag next year, and the years after that. For their story is always being retold and made new again. Liberty is a story that can't stop being told, because then it starts to die. I stand there amid the graves and their individual sacrifices and I look up to the one symbol that marks each of their losses each day and it marks their inheritance to us. I smile as I look around. There are old friends here and I think now I can hear them faintly if I listen real hard. I can hear them agreeing with me.........

Written from the heart of an American
Chris Hauser LCDR USN