An unassuming brown and white state road sign caught our attention on Memorial Day while driving back from Blue Springs/Independence, MO. We had no idea a large veterans cemetery was located in central Missouri. But it was like a beacon sat atop that sign Monday, beckoning drivers in from Interstate 70.
So we responded by exploring a Missouri landmark that seemed like the perfect place to be on a day of such observation.
Located several miles off the beaten path in Higginsville, we arrived there just before something very hallowed was about to happen. While passing through the front gates, visitors immediately saw row upon row of U.S. flags lining neatly plotted tombstones. The hush sort of took your breath away.
We drove toward a wall that seemed to be a focal point. After parking and getting out of the vehicle, the solemnity of this place of honor was immediately obvious. We discovered markers for veterans from the following wars: World War II, Vietnam, Korea, Persian Gulf, and Kosono.
Others were visiting the resting places of their relatives and friends, some taking photos, some breaking out in Marine songs; others just cried.
This wall was captivating for several reasons, but one that quickly stood out was the parting words selected to anchor so many veterans, such as the following:
Last Flight Vietnam: Thomas Allen, 1943-2006.
Let Go, Let God: Leroy Brown, Vietnam, 1948-2005
Gone to the Big Race: Charles Kwiatknowski, Korea, Vietnam
Missouri State Cemetery System representatives of the Missouri Veterans Commission dedicated and opened this state cemetery in Higginsville during November 1999. The cemetery is located on 55 acres of a beautifully landscaped hillside just north of town. The grounds include small lakes, a committal shelter, a columbarium wall and an administration building.
A 1 p.m. tribute to deserving veterans who served their country in the United States Armed Forces was about to happen Monday. Multiple generations of families gathered. It was like going back in time and stepping into a sliver of what these veterans lived through.
While we cannot know what all these veterans' lives were like, we can get a glimpse of must have been an important to them through the words chosen to be on their tombstones on the wall. More examples follow here:
- Until We Meet Again
- God Bless the Red Sox
- On the Wings of a Butterfly
- Gone Home
- In Our Hearts/Psalms 4:8
- Just Because
- Gone Fishing
- Lovely Lady
- Holding Hands
- Served Family and God
- Fly With The Wind
- 59 Years of Fun
- In Dreams We Meet
- I'm Free
- Lead Me to the Rock
- Off We Go Into Wide Blue
- Giving Others Joy is Love
What parting words for death would you choose?