“Cemetery Watchmen”

I just wanted to get the day over with and go down to Smokey’s.  Sneaking a look at my watch, I saw the time, 1655.  Five minutes to go before the cemetery gates are closed for the day.  Full dress was hot in the August sun.   Oklahoma summertime was as bad as ever–the heat and humidity at the same level–both too high.

I saw the car pull into the drive, ’69 or ’70 model Cadillac Deville, looked factory-new.  It pulled into the parking lot at a snail’s pace.  An old woman got out so slow I thought she was paralyzed; she had a cane and a sheaf of flowers–about four or five bunches as best I could tell.

I couldn’t help myself.  The thought came unwanted, and left a slightly bitter taste:  ‘She’s going to spend an hour, and for this old soldier, my hip hurts like hell and I’m ready to get out of here right now!’  But for this day, my duty was to assist anyone coming in.

Kevin would lock the ‘In’ gate and if I could hurry the old biddy along, we might make it to Smokey’s in time.

I broke post attention.  My hip made gritty noises when I took the first step and the pain went up a notch.  I must have made a real military sight:  middle-aged man with a small pot gut and half a limp, in marine full-dress uniform, which had lost its razor crease about thirty minutes after I began the watch at the cemetery.

I stopped in front of her, halfway up the walk.  She looked up at me with an old woman’s squint.

Ma’am,may I assist you in any way?

She took long enough to answer.

Yes, son.  Can you carry these flowers?  I seem to be moving a tad slow these days.

My pleasure, ma’am.‘  Well, it wasn’t too much of a lie.

She looked again.  ‘Marine, where were you stationed?

Vietnam, ma’am.  Ground-pounder. ’69 to ’71.

She looked at me closer.  ‘Wounded in action, I see.  Well done, Marine.  I’ll be as quick as I can.

I lied a little bigger:  ‘No hurry, ma’am.

She smiled and winked at me.  ‘Son, I’m 85-years-old and I can tell a lie from a long way off. Let’s get this done.  Might be the last time I can do this.  My name’s Joanne Wieserman, and I’ve a few Marines I’d like to see one more time.

Yes, ma ‘am.  At your service.

She headed for the World War I section, stopping at a stone.  She picked one of the flowers out of my arm and laid it on top of the stone.  She murmured something I couldn’t quite make out. The name on the marble was Donald S. Davidson, USMC: France 1918.

She turned away and made a straight line for the World War II section, stopping at one stone.  I saw a tear slowly tracking its way down her cheek.  She put a bunch on a stone; the name was Stephen X.Davidson, USMC, 1943.

She went up the row a ways and laid another bunch on a stone, Stanley J. Wieserman, USMC, 1944.

She paused for a second.  ‘Two more, son, and we’ll be done

I almost didn’t say anything, but, ‘Yes, ma’am.  Take your time.

She looked confused. ‘Where’s the Vietnam section, son?  I seem to have lost my way.

I pointed with my chin.  ‘That way, ma’am.

‘Oh!’ she chuckled quietly.  ‘Son, me and old age ain’t too friendly.

She headed down the walk I’d pointed at.  She stopped at a couple of stones before she found the ones she wanted.  She placed a bunch on Larry Wieserman, USMC, 1968, and the last on Darrel Wieserman, USMC, 1970.  She stood there and murmured a few words I still couldn’t make out.

OK, son, I’m finished.  Get me back to my car and you can go home.

Yes, ma’am.  If I may ask, were those your kinfolk?

She paused. ‘Yes, Donald Davidson was my father, Stephen was my uncle, Stanley was my husband, Larry and Darrel were our sons.  All killed in action, all marines.

She stopped.  Whether she had finished, or couldn’t finish, I don’t know.  She made her way to her car, slowly and painfully.

I waited for a polite distance to come between us and then double-timed it over to Kevin, waiting by the car.

Get to the ‘Out’ gate quick.  I have something I’ve got to do.

Kevin started to say something, but saw the look I gave him.  He broke the rules to get us there down the service road.  We beat her.  She hadn’t made it around the rotunda yet.

Kevin, stand at attention next to the gatepost.  Follow my lead.‘  I humped it across the drive to the other post.

When the Cadillac came puttering around from the hedges and began the short straight traverse to the gate, I called in my best gunny’s voice:  ‘TehenHut!  Present Haaaarms!

I have to hand it to Kevin; he never blinked an eye–full dress attention and a salute that would make his DI proud.
She drove through that gate with two old worn-out soldiers giving her a send-off she deserved, for service rendered to her country, and for knowing duty, honor and sacrifice.

I am not sure, but I think I saw a salute returned from that Cadillac.

Instead of ‘The End,’ just think of ‘Taps.

As a final thought on my part, let me share a favorite prayer: ‘Lord, keep our servicemen and women safe, whether they serve at home or overseas.  Hold them in your loving hands and protect them as they protect us.

Let’s all keep those currently serving and those who have gone before in our thoughts. They are the reason for the many freedoms we enjoy.

In God We Trust.’

Sorry about your monitor; it made mine blurry too!

If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under!

You are required to pass this on NOW!!!

SEMPER FI, BRAVO ZULU  (from my friend, Marine Mom Pat)

6 Responses to ““Cemetery Watchmen””

  1. NotSoWeepy Says:

    This looks very much like a Hoax story.

    1) Much of the dialogue lacks credibility and sounds affected like “gound pounder”.

    2) There were no Viet Nam casualties with the surname Wieserman.

    3) There is only 1 registered Veteran’s grave with the surname Wieserman, it is for a WWII Navy man from Pennsylvania – who survived until 1999.

    4) There is only 1 registered grave for a “Stephen Davidson” – and that is for a man with that middle name who was a WWI Army soldier from Arkansas and survived until 1963.

    5) There are 33 recorded “Donald Davidson” vetaran graves, but none of them has S for a middle initial.

  2. olotliny Says:

    Your post-and thank you for it, reminded me of Mrs. Bixby and Abraham Lincoln. It has been said/read/spoken that she lost 5 of her sons during the civil war wherein she lost 2.

    The link below will take the reader to a commentary from: Paul B. Farrell A Thanksgiving salute “A moment to remember America’s heroes … and their families” He heard the above story as part of a sermon given by: Robert H. Schuller of “Hour of Power” fame at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif.
    copy/paste the entire link into search to pull up article: http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/thanksgiving-salute-americas-heroes-their/story.aspx?guid={BDC37D24-2A1B-4DA8-95A7-5D3F15F6BED3}

    I posted the “Cemetery Watchman” because it moved me. The story was passed to me from another blue star mom of a Marine on his repeat deployment. (getting on my soap box:)

    I’ve been to Gettysburg, Antietam, Washington D.C.; I’ve walked/reflected besides the memorials. I observed Honor Flight Veterans/families/friends paying/giving tribute to those they loved/knew/lost at WWII memorial. https://olotliny.wordpress.com/2008/05/06/memorial-day-2/ I’ve been honored/humbled to attend a P.O.W. / M.I.A (prisoner of war/ missing in action) table of honors. https://olotliny.wordpress.com/?s=pow+table+of+honor I’ve been to wakes and funerals for those who gave their lives willingly to support and defend our Constitution. I am a mother of a service man. My father and uncles served. We have a family friend who is dying slowly from Parkinson who had been exposed to Agent Orange…

    I considered if the names were/are factual within the story-however, that was in and of itself not what was the most important lesson/theme of the piece for me.

    Cemetery Watchman transports the reader into the shoes of another who knows sacrifice in all its most personal, profound, tremendous, total loss – experience. The reader can feel the isolation. One can try to contemplate a coexistence of those who live on quietly having lost so much. It connected me to the 10 lessons learned from a Janitor. The reminder of many times, we are surrounded by heroes-some whose deeds are known-most other times not public-but their actions nevertheless have inspired, saved, motivate and altered lives. https://olotliny.wordpress.com/?s=10+lessons+learned+from+a+janitor

    Are exact names important-yes if it is to present factual information/news. Is it possible for a family to have had generations within their genealogy to have served –yes-that is possible and yes it has occurred-and continues to the present. Here is a link to just one news story:

    Here is a link to footnote.com and their introductory film on locating a name on: “The Wall”

  3. Fred Wiggins Jr Says:

    I am proud to have served honorably in the US Air Force during Desert Shield/Storm. I am also VERY proud of my lineage. My father served two tours in Vietnam with the US Marines at DaNang as a crew chief on A-6s and F-4s. He was wounded there but died at 51 of a major heart attack. His father, my grandfather, served in Europe during WWII in the US Army as a truck driver on the RedBall Express and during the Battle of the Bulge. He died Sept. 8, 2001 of many complications at age 88. My mother’s father, my other grandfather, served in the Pacific in the US Army as a supply clerk. He died of Black Lung cancer in 1977. I have four sons. The oldest has served in the Louisiana National Guard and the second oldest is in training right now for the Georgia National Guard. My youngest two have plans to go into the Naval Reserve and the Air Force already.
    So…it IS possible that families can have generations who serve. And while it is also possible that they will inevitably lose some in sacrifice of the cause, most tend to make it back home. Their sacrifice is no less and is something to be just as proud of. While my relatives and I did not pay the ultimate price, we were all the more willing to do so if called on. My boys may or may not stand in the fire. But, they are ready and willing if the call goes up. It is in our blood. We are patriots by nature. I would still go if needed. However, I fear that I would be very similar to the old Marine, typical 44 year old out of shape veteran that I am.
    Regardless of the nature of the story, factual or not, the meaning is the same. Please continue to post it wherever and whenever. Even as an old wives tale, it has very deep and profound meaning and stirs that thing within us all that needs to be stirred now and then.
    Special thanks to MarineMom. I know her. Semper Fi!

  4. ATG Says:

    While it is true that stories can be touching whether they are true or not, the security risk here is that these are stories sent to you by email that contain hidden viruses, worms or other malware that infects your computer or collects data while you are distracted by these emotionally engaging stories. ANYTHING that asks you to PLEASE READ AND anything that tells you to pass it along is malware. You are taking the bait and it isn’t harmless. Re-write the beautiful story and send it without the hidden bomb, if you must.

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