Archive for May, 2012

Stones of Gray

May 24, 2012
By Commander Edward L. Bookhardt, US Navy, Retired
I stand in solemn reverence, alone,  —   yet, not alone  —   gazing out over the rolling green fields marked with row upon row of carved and polished…   Stones of gray.The warm May breeze, softly brushes my face on its journey across the placid expanse of this hallowed place. Setting in motion the red, white and blue colors of the starry banners which have been placed with loving care beside the resting places of those we have come to honor.

All seems still, except for the muted sounds of fluttering flags, accompanied occasionally by the melodious solo of a mockingbird perched atop a nearby stone. The stillness brings a sudden chill, which shakes my very being. A feeling of helpless concern for my own mortality creeps over me. I sense a deep loneliness, yet I am not alone.

The familiar sounds of military commands and the rustling of ceremonial formations suddenly interrupt my somber thoughts. The bugler’s haunting strains of “Taps” brings me to rigid attention and I salute… each note echoing through my soul as a misty glaze fills my eyes. My once gleaming uniform, as the features of my aging face are now showing the inevitable wear of time…not unlike the weathered gray stones that surround me.

For a brief moment, beneath this beribboned breast beat a brave and proud young warrior’s heart. Filled with the magic memories of bygone times in far-off lands. I pull myself up, to stand just a bit taller as we who have assembled pay homage to our fallen kindred.

Many who came on this Memorial Day have now departed. Once again, I stand alone, but I am not alone, for my comrades remain in silent steadfast ranks. Each proudly mustering for their eternal watch. I turn to go, then pause, turn again and salute once more… the mockingbird as in some ceremonial “fly-by” spreads its feathery wings, then gently rises to float effortlessly on the warm May breeze across the emerald field of starry banners and Stones of Gray.