Rob & Edie

Jefferson Barracks Cemetery

“On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Air Force and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.”

Two airmen, one young, male and tall and the other much older, not the congregation’s old, but well on the way there, female and shorter folded an American flag with exaggerated precision. When the flag was folded into a crisp triangle, she took it from him with two open palms, one on top of the flag, the other below. She turned and knelt in front of the widow and then recited the above words with practiced perfection. But also, with real sincerity in her old before their time eyes that have seen so much grief. Like she had done a thousand times.

Jefferson Barracks is a national cemetery that was created by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. When the boys were in Scouts, we would plant flags on the graves for Memorial Day. These days, it performs about forty services a day. So, our service was by necessity brief.

Rob passed while we were out-of-town this summer, but we made it back to Saint Louis for his service. Both he and Edie were Kaldi bicycle buddies. We have not ridden with them for years, but we have gotten together again for monthly luncheons. There was a larger than expected turnout for Rob’s service and Edie hosted us all at their home afterwards.

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