The band plays. The guns fire, loudly. I flinch. The flags ripple in the wind. Hundreds of them, rippling, in the small-town rural cemetery. The jets roar overhead in perfect pattern and one peels off, heavenward, disappearing into the clouds on the warm, almost-summer day.
The World War II veteran is introduced. He stands slowly, planting his feet firmly underneath him. He walks to the podium. The keynote address.
He speaks clearly and resolutely, occasionally flashing his still-brilliant smile. He tells of Germany and concentration camps and of soldiers who remain forever young, never having a chance to live their own lives of freedom. His eyes fill with tears, pleading for peace. Pleading for dignity. Pleading for hope.
His address over, he walks to his seat. His eyes widen with surprise when he turns to see a crowd on its feet, applauding with appreciation, but not just for his words.
He nods in acknowledgment of the ovation and smiles again. A quiet smile, yes.
I wave my little flag high into the air. That's my Dad, I say.
That's my Dad.
In Memory of Maurice Dalton, 1920-2015