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Pages of Life: Remembering and Honoring

by Dorothy Kleindienst | June 3, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Photo courtesy Dorothy Kleindienst In the picture you can see the Eagle perched on top of our sons condominium.

Monday was the day we set aside each year special to honor those who have fallen while serving our Country. Flags were flown, and honoring, and parades were held to pay tribute to the sacrifice and dedication of who fought and gave their life for each of us. It seems like such a small amount of time to devote to our heroes, who have given their all, so that we can live in freedom.

Family and friends get together for picnics and barbecues. Our two oldest sons, Daniel, and Randy, along with members of their families, spent Memorial Day at the Lake of the Ozarks. It was funny when they were swimming in the pool at their condominium when an Eagle flew over and landed on the roof top to watch. Guess it wanted in on the celebration too! Seems fitting as the Eagle is seen as a symbol of bravery, courage, strength, and patriotism.

Flags will be flying, and some, including us, kept the tradition of flying half-staff from dawn until noon, local time.

My folks, and David's family, referred to this day as Decoration Day. They, as well as most of that generation, wanted to see all Military Men and Women receive a flag or flower on their grave.

I remember several years ago when I would drive a little 96-year-old lady, Lillian Dennis, around to cemeteries, and I would pack her little stool and flowers, so she could set and place a flower on graves. She had so much respect for all those who had fallen.

For many years David and I spent Memorial Day with Daddy. He was very patriotic, and we were always so thankful that he was one that made it home. Some days he would talk about some of his experiences, but there were some that he just couldn't talk about without getting emotional.

Although 95 years old, he was "sharp as a tack" as they say, and could tell you dates, places, and times of any event you would mention. One day David asked him when he was drafted into the army. He was quick to let him know he wasn't drafted, he enlisted! He recalled it was in February 1942 and FDR was president at the time.

One day while visiting, after our son Randy had returned from a trip to England for a church convention, we listened while they talked. We were astonished. Randy would mention an old church building or something, and Daddy would say, "Oh I remember that place." Then he would ask if the little restaurant, or some other landmark, was still there.

Some memories would make him laugh, but other times he would choke up with emotion as he talked about seeing the bravery of our boys, climbing into the water, and coming ashore to almost certain death. They were being mowed down by the German guns up on a hill. In his words it was "horrible, just horrible"! He rarely would talk about it. These heroes are what Memorial Day is all about. Lest we forget.

Our three sons, Daniel, Randy & Eric, found their grandpa's stories fascinating. Our youngest son Eric said. "I listen to him talk in awe. I'm not just reading history, but actually hearing it firsthand from an eyewitness!"

I believe he is what has been the inspiration behind our son Randy and his wife Christine's driving support of our Veterans and Memorial Day events.

As Daddy grew older David made sure the American Flag was always flying in his yard and replaced it if it got faded. He really appreciated looking out his window from his recliner and seeing it.

David still makes sure the flag is flying proudly for him, over his grave, and every time I hear the song, "He's more than a name on the wall." I think of Daddy and his medals that were in a frame on the wall.

Although Memorial Day is in remembrance of our fallen, we wish to give a special thank you to all Veterans for your service, so thankful you made it home, and you are all heroes indeed.

My first Daddy, Leroy Bode, was in the Navy, and is now sleeping in a military graveyard in Florida. And my second Daddy, George Warden, was in the Army, now sleeping at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Fulton. Both are gone now and remain heroes to our family.

Whenever you see someone with poppies, remember members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, accepts donations for our disabled and needy in exchange for a poppy. It's for those who did make it home and need our assistance now.

Memorial Day was a special day to remember, and honor, our courageous men and women, who made the ultimate sacrifice so we could live this day in peace. Young people who selflessly defended our country and people they loved, and never returned. Brings tears to my eyes.

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