Patricia Craig Johnson --- Searching for My Ancestors --- Sharing My Life Stories

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Monday, May 28, 2012

My Favorite Veteran -- John E. Johnson 1932-2009

Because I will be attending the Memorial Day ceremony at the Windsor cemetery on Monday, I decided to make my visit to Grandview cemetery on Sunday.

Actually, I like to go there when it is quieter.  But, it wasn't all that quiet, as the cemetery was buzzing with cars and families placing flowers on their family graves. It was nice to see families and children as they found graves and placed flowers. I imagine that the parents were telling the children about the people and ancestors buried there. It is a nice connection for children to folks long gone. It may also inspire them to learn about their ancestors and become (heaven forbid) genealogists. I am not sure that is a blessing or a curse (g).

It was a bright sunny day and the wind was blowing. It was actually quite gusty and ordinarily may have been annoying, but today it was beautiful. As I entered the cemetery, I saw thousands of American flags waving. The Boy Scouts, and our friend Dave Rubenthaler, spend a lot of time making sure every veteran in Grandview has a flag on their grave on Memorial Day. Today they were beautiful and the wind was making sure they were in action. It was quite moving to see as I drove through the gate to the cemetery.

I sat on our cemetery neighbor's bench and thought for quite awhile about the young man from Lovell, Wyoming going off to war in 1950. How obedient and scared he was, but he stood up and did his duty and faced the unknown. Men can never be the same after being in war, especially when they are on the front line. The neighbor's bench is east of our space and I met the lady one day as we were both cleaning around the tombstones. We laughed as we commented, "It is nice to know who your forever neighbors are." Now she has passed away, and is beside her husband. I remember asking her if it was alright if we sat on their bench and she said, "Of course." Now I am the only one left to come and visit.

Today, I remembered when John and I first met (in 1983) and we went to Denver to a concert at the old McNichols Stadium. That stadium has been razed but it was in the area of where the Bronco Stadium is now. The concert was, The Boston Pops with guest conductor, Henry Mancini.  I had bought tickets to the concert before I met John, so I felt I had to use them, and he seemed to enjoy going. We stood as the concert started with the National Anthem, and I was so very proud to be standing next to him. It was a feeling I remember to this day. There were to be many rocky and volatile moments in the future for us, but at that moment things were perfect. I had already decided I kind of liked him. That happened the first time he rode his Harley to my house. That is when I said to myself, "You had better take a second look at this guy."  And I did.

But to get back to today -- I was happy to sit and remember, and feel proud, and enjoy the beautiful sight of thousands of American flags waving.  It was good to be alive and to be an American.  I can't even count all of my many blessings.  John E. Johnson was definitely one of them, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world.  And, I can say to John, "As long as I am alive, there will be someone to come to see your resting place."   Patj

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