Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery
Monday, March 2, 2009 1:19:19 AM
Unlike any other St. Louis cemetery that I've been to, this one is notable - as are most military cemeteries - for the rows and rows of identically shaped gravestones. Like uniforms. Yet all marking an individual who was loved and loved in turn.
Many of the graves date back to the Civil War, but there are veterans from all subsequent wars buried here. Judging by the dates, many who are buried lived full lives after whatever conflict involved them, but there are more who obviously died in battle or of disease during the many wars.
It seems like such a waste, yet it is hard not to be moved by such sacrifice.
As I drove around the long, cleanly paved roads past the well-kept graves, a group of deer caught my eye.
Wandering among the stones, these beautiful animals seemed almost unearthly in their utter disregard of the ground they traversed.
It soon became clear what attracted these animals. On this Sunday, some of the graves were decorated with fresh flowers.
What could be more appealing than a crisp cut rose?
With mixed feelings, I watched as one deer nudged and then ate a blood red bloom. The rose had been brought and laid by the stone with reverence, and yet here was this animal treating it as an afternoon snack.
But why not? The reverence was in the act of bringing and laying the flower. It would soon wilt and fade.
Looking into those large and gentle eyes, I could not find it in myself to blame this creature.
Such life amongst all this death.