Last Monday was Memorial Day, and my mother asked if we wanted to accompany her to visit my father’s grave at the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton.
It’s hard for me to believe it has been two years since Dad passed away. We decided to make a day of it and planned on visiting my dad’s burial site and then going out to eat.
Although Canton is not too far, with traffic it is a little bit of a hike to get there. Once you pull off of Hwy. 20 onto the long and winding driveway, you find yourself relaxing. The views of the Blue Ridge Mountains are breathtaking.
When you reach the office part of the cemetery, you park and make your way to the welcome center. There’s a user-friendly kiosk where you enter your loved one’s name. When you find who you are looking for, the machine prints out a map of the cemetery, which tells you where to go. The cemetery is on a 775-acre site, so believe me, you need a map.
One of the most endearing qualities about the history of this special place is that the valuable land was donated by a private citizen, Scott Hudgens. A World War II veteran, Hudgens was a land developer and philanthropist. He also began a foundation so that long after his death, his philanthropic work might continue.
Hudgens obviously has a good seat in heaven — indeed the first time I visited my dad’s site, I felt I was a little closer to heaven in this pristine setting.
With the help of the map, we located my dad’s white cross.
Usually when I visit, there are only a few other people around. Not on Memorial Day. The place was bustling with activity as families brought fresh flowers for their loved ones and kneeled at the crosses.
Each cross was decorated with a small flag and it was a powerful sight as the sea of white crosses contrasted with the brilliant green grass. I cried a little seeing the wind blow those little flags, as if Old Glory herself was honoring those precious heroes underneath her.
I stood with my mother, husband, brother and two of our children for awhile not saying anything at all. We all were lost in our thoughts and memories about the great man my father was.
Then mom suggested we go over to a little covered area where they conduct funerals. Mom wanted to have a little devotional, which she said is part of her ritual when she visits Dad.
The white hydrangeas were beautiful and the weather was perfect. We all said the Lord’s Prayer, and then Mom recited the 23rd Psalm. She cried a little and then, being Mom, apologized to us for it, as if any of us had dry eyes at that point.
After that, we shared some stories about my dad. They were funny, commemorating his legendary sense of humor. Once again I said how glad I was that all of my children had gotten to know their Papa and would remember him.
When we left, we decided to continue paying tribute to dad by going out to eat at Williams Brothers Barbecue.
My dad loved barbecue, and back in the day he cooked a mean pork butt.
Memorial Day is a bittersweet day for so many in our great country. May God bless those who have fallen and their families who love and miss them so.
It is both powerful and humbling to visit the sacred grounds of the Georgia National Cemetery. If you’ve never been, I encourage you to go. No matter what the day is, pay respect to those who fought for our freedom and either died while doing so or later in life.
God Bless America.
Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.