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Tammy Cheslic
Tammy Cheslic • 3 years ago

For a Soldier at Antietam Author: Andrew Broadhurst | Published: 07/04/2011 | Short URL: “Not for themselves, but for their country…” Antietam National Cemetery … She skipped across the red bricks and took her first look at the final resting place of thousands of soldiers. What two year old wouldn’t be excited about spending a fun summer afternoon with her father in place as interesting as this? Her laughter reached my post high above the grounds and even though I was on duty, I waved at her. … She played freely among the gravestones while he hiked back to the stone wall overlooking the battlefield… Suddenly, she stopped at a West Virginia gravestone and knelt close in front of it, as if she were reading the inscription. Then she stood up and laid her head down on top of smooth arched stone. She looked at her daddy and laughed, then went to the next stone and knelt in front of it… She was gently running her fingers along the top of the another tombstone now. Then she bent down over it and leaned forward. ... She kissed it. She was kissing the stones. He stopped and stood with his back to me. She kissed another one, popped her head up, smiled and giggled, then kissed another. … She kissed nearly twenty gravestones while we silently watched. You could almost see the soldiers standing at attention in their blue uniforms while the little girl thanked each one for his ultimate sacrifice. Finally her father walked over and took her little hand. “OK Lexi, I think we’re ready.” He knelt down next to her. ... “Now, go pick one of these stones and I’ll write a story about him.” She nodded her head no ... and bolted down a walkway ... Back and forth she roamed through hundreds of unknown soldiers whose names are shrouded in history, known to God alone. She touched each little marker … as she marched along. “Dis. Dis. Dis.” Her father… pointed at a white gravestone. “Come on back up here. This is a good one. We can read his name, rank, the state he was from and everything. I bet we can find out more about him in that big black book out at the gate. We could even look him up online when we get home.”... “Dis, Dis, Dis.” “Are you sure?” “Yesh, Dis.” He walked over and knelt down over the gravesite. ... Etched into the stone was the number ‘1703’. …. “Who do you think he was Lexi? Was he someone’s big brother?” ... He pulled out his notebook again ... “Why did you join the army? ...” … He sat quietly writing. … “Well 1703, I don’t know who you are, where you are from, why you fought, or what happened to you.” ... “But, I promise I’ll write something about you. Thank you for your service Sir.” ... I wanted to get her attention and thank her for visiting. ... I waved enthusiastically and made all the noise I could. ... She pointed at the bird as it flew straight up to the heavens, and that’s when she finally saw me, flapping in the breeze at the post, watching over those known and unknown who have fallen and beckoning freedom, liberty, and justice for all who still live. “Yook! Flag!” “Yes it sure is! A United States flag. It flies for you!”

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