Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Remembrance Day

I like how the Canadians call it Remembrance Day, but  tomorrow is Veteran's Day.  We live about 30 minutes from the LORRAINE AMERICAN CEMETERY AND MEMORIAL and have driven there for a respite.  My most memorable visit was with a friend who was visiting.  She had a great uncle whom she had never met buried there and we went on behalf of her mother and other family members to see the grave.

Going to the cemetery is a tender event, but when you go to one of the American Battle Monuments and Cemeteries with a loved one in mind, it becomes a whole new experience.  We stopped first at the visitors' center to look up his name and locate the grave marker.  From the moment we inquired the visit changed.  Our guide collected her tools and led us to the grave.  As we walked past the tall, imposing bell tower and crested the steps, the vista before us was so moving we all wept.

We walked in the dewy grass through the rows and rows of markers until we reached the grave of William H. Gulledge, Jenette Turner's Great uncle.

 Our guide went to work, first cleaning the marker, then she rubbed sand into the engraved name and wiped away the excess.  This made the name easier to read.
Then she planted an American and a French flag at the base of the marker.

Jenette and our guide

Then it was time to take pictures.  Our guide also prepared a folder for Jenette to take back to her family with information about the battle Pvt. Gulledge had fought in, where he was first buried and the date he was moved to the Lorraine cemetary.  She thanked us for our service, and left us to savor the moment in the reverence of that October morning.

 Linda Hulterstrom, Jenny Clinton, Jenette Turner
(Jenny was newly returned from her mission, Linda was a former companion from Sweden who flew to Frankfurt for the homecoming, Jenette a friend from Topeka who was Jenny's "companion" after she arrived in Utah and before she checked into the MTC, and then flew with Jenny on the last leg of her trip home.)

We have returned several times to the Lorraine Cemetery, and we always look up the grave marker and leave flowers.  Sometimes we stop at the visitors center, and when we ask, the same lovely French woman guide will gladly leave her work and show us the way to Pvt. Gulledge's grave, all the time saying "this is my job, I'm honored to do it."  At the same time she will give a brief introduction to the cemetery, the Medal of Honor awardees buried there, but always paying tribute to those buried in unknown graves.  We feel privileged to live so close.