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story.lead_photo.caption SubmittedColumnist Dorothy Kleindienst’s husband, David, places an American flag next to her father’s gravestone.

Monday is the day we set aside to honor those who have fallen while serving our country. Flags will be flown, and parades will be held to pay tribute to the sacrifice and dedication of those who fought and gave their lives for each of us. It seems like such a small amount of time to devote to our heroes who have given their all so we could live in freedom.

Family and friends will be getting together for picnics and barbecues. Flags will be flying, and some keep the tradition of flying them at 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 place a flower on graves. She had so much respect for all those who had fallen.

For many years, David and I got to spend Memorial Day with Daddy. He was very patriotic, and we were always so thankful he was one who did make it home. Some days, he would talk about some of his experiences, but there were some 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 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 told 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 really all about, lest we forget.

Our three sons — Daniel, Randy and 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. You probably have seen Randy packing the flag every year in our town's parade. He does this with honor and feeling, thinking of his grandpa and all our others who have served.

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, "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. We are so thankful you made it home, and you are all heroes indeed.

Just a reminder if you see someone with poppies, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars accept donations for our disabled and needy in the VA, who made them in exchange for a poppy. It's for those who did make it home and need our assistance now.

Let's count our blessings on this Memorial Day and remember and honor our courageous men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice so we could live this day in peace.

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