The Flags

Lynn | Honor and Remember | Saturday, November 28th, 2009

We are fortunate because we live near one of the 130 National Cemeteries in the United States. Everyone knows about Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, DC; few know about the others.

I say we’re fortunate for 2 reasons; one because our son Rhys is buried there and two, because being in the vicinity of a cemetery dedicated to our military veterans is a constant reminder of the sacrifices Americans make for their fellow citizens of the US and fellow citizens of the world. A visit to a National Cemetery is truly a humbling experience.

We put flags out every week on the graves of those brave men and women killed in combat during the current Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, a mission that we have taken over for an aging and now sick veteran. We are proud to call Bob Markham our friend, a kind man, a former soldier, whose ministry in life since his wife’s death is to honor each young man and woman buried there who has died in combat in these current conflicts. We met Bob one Saturday while we were placing flowers on Rhys’ grave. We saw Bob many times after that, placing flags every Saturday. Often we saw only the results, as he was there earlier than anyone else.

Bob is sick now and worried about who would take care of the flags. He honored Michael and me by letting us take over for him. As he drove me around the cemetery the first time so that I could figure out the location of all of the markers, Bob shared a little tidbit of each soldier, sailor, airman or Marine’s story. “I’d better write this down,” I thought to myself.

The first time I went around with Bob I wanted to linger at each marker, wondering about the young man or woman, their families and their feelings about their lost son, daughter, spouse, mom, or dad. “Hurry,” Bob urged me on, “you’ll never get through the list if you spend too much time.” At first there were 72 names on the list. The list has, sadly grown since then.

Michael does the flags each week now. I’m the “second string” or the helper, if needed. Both of us have the marker locations memorized now.

I did the honors alone one recent Saturday morning when Michael had other obligations and realized as I placed the flags, how hard it really is to see those markers. They are bleak reminders of the evil in this world but they are shining reminders of the kind of people that are “Americans.” I shed a tear for each one of them and for their families, remembering the pride with the grief; a military tradition since the founding of this nation, but a tragedy I wish no family faced.

I know that Bob hated putting the responsibility of his ministry in someone else’s hands. But I think he knows what a blessing it has turned out to be for us. As we honor the war dead, we honor our son. When we meet other families at the cemetery, we share an unspoken bond in our pride and our grief.

The simple act of placing a flag on a grave marker means so much to those families who worry that everyone will soon forget their loss and that special life shortened by events a world away from home.

Thank you Bob Markham for making a step in our journey as precious as the lost soldier we honor. And thank you Lord for putting people like Bob in our path.

Lynn

Lynn

Account Executive at Sika Sarnafil
Lynn is an accomplished writer and business professional with a BA in English, an MBA, and JD degrees from prestigious Universities. Lynn has worked in the construction industry for 35 years.

She is also the mother of an American Hero. Her only child, Sgt. Rhys W. Klasno was killed in action on "Mother's Day," 13 May 2007 in Haditha, Iraq. Read her American Hero Tribute Blog and check out her Roofing Solutions Wonderkid Blog
Lynn

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4 Comments »

  1. Ma’am, my name is James Shortway. I wasn’t in your sons unit but we provided them security on many missions. I was in the vehicle in front of your son when the IED went off. My friend Jeremy Gugliotta was the medic that worked on your son. Jeremy recieved the Bronze star with a V device for valor for the actions he led us through in every attempt to save your son. I felt a strong need to let you know. Your son was a great soldier, he did everything with a smile on his face. The night before, we were at Camp TQ playing cards hearts if you want to be particular. Your son was one of the 5% of non-Infantry guys we would hang out with (the fact that he ran the MWR sometimes made him royalty.) Your son was making us laugh all night. He was just as tired as we were after a seriously long mission. Everyone loves him. I never heard a bad word said against him. “Googs” or “Doc G” as we call him and Rhys weren’t much different, Googs is a little more sinister, your son certainly the “innocent” one of the two *wink but both men were always the two funniest guys in the room. He fought, and we fought for him, as hard as we could. Sgt Gugliotta’s actions that day were honest to god, the most heroic things I have seen in my life. I saw Googs physically exhaust himself, using every bit of his training. In fact it was me who recommended Sgt Gugliotta for his award that day. God bless Rhys and your family.
    James Shortway
    fmr 1-16 Infantry OEF V ,OIF V

    Comment by James Shortway — December 16, 2009 @ 3:56 pm

  2. BOB IS A SAINT. i AM PROUD TO SAY I SERVED WITH HIM IN VIETNAM AND GOT TO TO KNOW HIM AND HIS LOVELY WIFE THROUGH C-7A REUNIONS. THEY BOTH ARE VERY SPECIAL PEOPLE AND NOMI IS MISSED TERRIBLY.

    Comment by ALLEN SHANAHAN — December 30, 2009 @ 7:52 pm

  3. I love hearing these stories. It’s wonderful that you are taking on such a great task. God bless your hearts. I hope that you will post more. We have not forgotten about Rhys and love to hear you open up about your love for your son. It helps to keep us close in our own way. Thank you so much.

    Comment by Someone Who Loves You — January 10, 2010 @ 12:51 am

  4. Hello Ma’am,

    I am sorry it took so long for me to write on here, it is not one of my best memories though. I am SSG Gugliotta the medic that was on site when your son was in the situation in Iraq. I apologize about the restraint but would rather not write too much on an open web page. I wanted to let you know I am more sorry for your loss than you could ever imagine and keep him in my prayers at all times. If you would ever like to talk you can email me , I would be honored to talk to you if you feel the need. Take care ma’am and god bless.

    Googs

    Comment by Jeremy T. Gugliotta — August 2, 2010 @ 6:04 am

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