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The Folded Flag

Ryan Brainard

It is one of my most prized possesions.  We display it in our house in a protective case.  And it’s an item that families who have lost a loved one who served in the military know all too well.  A folded flag.  The folded American flag was draped over the coffin of my grandfather who passed away several years ago.  He was a World War 2 veteran, and recieved military rights at his funeral.  My thoughts always center on him on Veteran’s Day, and today, Memorial Day.

My grandparents didn’t live close to my family.  They lived in Wisconsin.  Yes, a neighboring state, but far enough away that we only got to visit them a couple times a year.  I never really got to know them that well.  And now that I’m a parent with kids of my own, I realize what I missed.  Here was a man who helped save the world, then came home to start and raise a family.  There are so many questions I wish I would have asked.  So many stories I wish he could have shared.

It was only when I was old enough to realize what I had missed, that I wanted to ask him all these questions.  But it was too late.  Dementia robbed him of those memories.  Memories we never got to share.  To top it off, I was away on business and was unable to attend his funeral.  Guilt?  You bet.  I didn’t honor the man enough in life, and now I wasn’t able to honor him properly in death.  It’s a burden I’ll always carry.

So on this Memorial Day, let us remember all who have sacrificed so much for our nation.  Those who are with us, and those like my grandfather, who are not.  My thoughts and prayers go out to all who have these folded flags.

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