Hello, I'm in Delaware

One month. I've officially been a widow (still hate that word) for one month. This week has been rough. The day before yesterday, some more of his stuff came home. The stuff that was on him when the accident happened (the only stuff I'd gotten before was "sentimental" stuff - tags/jewelry - but everything at this point is sentimental). The items included his cards (humvee license, coach's certificate, etc), money he had on him, little red light I bought for him before he left - literally a few hours before he left, some papers he had (one being a note I'd written him before he left, he had been carrying it with him, I didn't know that...), and... the memory card from the camera. I couldn't get the camera itself back because it'd been broken too badly to be scanned by the people who go through his stuff before I get it - JPED - but the card was in working condition and so I got it. Of course, I went through it. There were lots of pictures and it was nice seeing him as he was over there. It'd been so long since I'd seen him. We had webcammed a couple times before he got into the nitty-gritty of Afghanistan but it had been months since I'd seen him, so it was both good and heart breaking to look at these photos. It was good to see his face, to see he was still smiling over there, but heartbreaking for obvious reasons... and to know he will never be able to explain some of the photos to me. Like why there were tons of pictures of mud... Really Jonny, was the mud that astounding that you had to take 5 pictures of it?? Ha. Then, we got to the day... 14 March 2010. There were pictures from that day. My chest tightened as I looked through them but I forced myself to finish. Then the last picture. The last picture my babe has ever, will ever, take. Quite possibly the last thing he saw. A slight nervous breakdown occurred after and I decided I just don't want to do this anymore. I don't want to be a widow, I don't want to be receiving his stuff without him, I don't want to be sad, I don't want to. But, the fact of the matter is I don't have a choice. I have to. And I have to remember, I'm not doing it without him. He's right here with me every step of the way. Even when it doesn't feel like it, I don't doubt that he's somewhere close at hand, he can feel when I need him, and he's there. I have to say I have amazing friends (once again) who held me through this, who made me look up, made me look at my little girl and assured me that I can and that I am going to do this. It will never go away, it's not a matter of "getting through" it's a matter of surviving. Each day, every day. I can, and I am.

Earlier that day I received a text message from my mom that simply said "You got a package from Jonny today." Had I gotten that message a month ago, I would have been so excited, said FINALLY, and told her to send it. There would not have been any other feeling beside excitement. This time, though, my heart sunk. I'm still excited and happy to have it, but reading those words, knowing that it's not something he just sent, was hard. It's like my heart had a small leap at first... from Jonny? And then was like... Oh yeah... mail takes a while, from Jonny... before... I am still excited to get it here, but it's a different kind of excitement. I'm not sure if there's anything else in it, but I know the one thing in there is a cassette tape, we'd been sending each other tapes, he took his time filling one up and had told me a couple weeks before the accident that he had finally filled it up and would be putting it in the mail. This excitement is more a thirst to hear his voice than general excitement. And I'm scared. Not of the content, just of how my heart will be taking it. How am I going to hear, in his voice, promises of coming home? How am I going to listen to him so hopeful and healthy and alive without losing it? The one thing I've learned though, is that sometimes, it's ok to lose it. I don't have to be Mrs. Strength 100% of the time. It's ok if I am sad or angry or just having a day. Like today, just having a day.

If you are wondering, I am not in Delaware. The title actually refers to a song a friend from high school introduced me to. I'm going to take a moment now to post a few songs I've been listening to today. Whether they've helped or made me sadder, I'm not sure. What I do know is that some of them can say what I feel without me having to say it.

Dallas Green, Hello I'm in Delaware (this one hit close to home not only because of the lyrics but the title - Jonny flew in to Dover AFB in Delaware, so it was pretty profound to me)


Lady Antebellum, Never Alone (I can only imagine him saying many of these things to me)


Death Cab for Cutie, I Will Follow You Into The Dark (Heaven will be holding his hand once again)


Shelly Fabares, Jonny Angel (I've always been into Oldies, and after the funeral I had this stuck in my head. I know the song has nothing to do with funerals or Angels or anything like that, but it was stuck in my head. It came on 50s on 5 the other day when my friend and I were cleaning and she kinda froze and looked at me - she'd never heard it - and I was like ...Yup.)


Lady Gaga, Bad Romance (The last song we listened to on the way to deployment, broke up the sadness of what we were about to do, still breaks up the sadness for me)


Of course there are more songs that remind me of him, that I use to deal with things... etc. But these are just the songs for today. Also, I want to apologize for being crappy with writing comments, honestly I'm not reading much these days, it's hard for me, and as amazing as you all have been I'm sure you understand but I didn't want you to think I didn't love you all anymore!

Semper Fi,

80 comments

  1. youre so amazing and strong and beautiful. my heart breaks for you and your daughter.
    all my love.

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  2. I have to admit, anytime I've ever thought of myself getting the knock at the door- that's all I can think of. I can't think of what would happen after that. It's reassuring and saddening at the same time to read your posts. I'm just glad that he's with you and that you are surviving... *love & hugs*

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  3. WOW. As many times as I have had to imagine the 'unthinkable' (why do we call it that, when we obviously DO think about it?) I have never even tried to picture all the aftermath - like what you just described.
    Heartbreaking.
    And as usual, you are so inspirational with this - especially in the way you said that you KNOW it is OK to break down sometimes.
    I'm still praying for you and Ariana, and I know that you will be OK. Eventually.

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  4. Oh Rachel. This still breaks my heart. I will always be nothing but amazed at the amount of strength, beauty, and composure you've showed throughout this entire thing. <3

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  5. ohh my heart just breaks for you. i'm sitting here about to cry thinking of how i would handle this. you are SO strong and such a testament to so many other wives and women out there. praying for you and your baby girl.

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  6. I can't imagine what you are going through. I do know that when I lost my best friend to cancer it was a struggle to get through the days. Each day became not easier but livable. Still after it had been 5 years you could still say her name and I would cry. It's been 14 years now, and I'm crying now. That was a very hard time. Prayer...that's what got me through. I still cry when I listen to "Some Sweet Day" (boys II Men) and I still can not listen to "Angels Amoung us" by Alabama. It was the theme song for her fund raiser before she died. Anyway I don't know how you feel. I can't, I can pray you through it and let you know that people care.

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  7. You are so brave! Your strength, even when you are weak is so encouraging and beautiful...We know the memory of your Mr. be eternally in your heart...and it's that memory and that love that will drive your life! {{{{{{{Hug}}}}}}}}!!

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  8. I don't have any profound words for you, but just so you know I think you are so incredible and so strong and I am praying for you and Ariana often!

    And make sure you do the head bob to the ra ra rarara part lol :)

    Hugs!

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  9. You are absolutely right. It is perfectly fine to break down on occasion. I'd worry about your sanity if you didn't. ;)

    I'm glad to hear you're making it through, and constantly amazed by your grace and strength. My thoughts, prayers and love go out to you and your daughter.

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  10. You're strength amazes me. And you are so right...it's okay to fall apart sometimes. You have to.

    Thanks for sharing the songs. As always, thinking about you and praying for you and Ariana always!

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  11. If something this big happened to me I would be staring into space mainly I think. You really are dealing with this bravely and honourably, still carrying on with activities and thinking of others too. I think many of us are probably learning hugely from you. As for the tape I hope that when you do listen to it, it will be at the right time for you.

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  12. I am amazed by the strength you have. You are someone to look up to.

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  13. You are amazing. I've had friends go through this and saw how they handled it, but your blog gives insight into how it is mentally. It's both beautiful and heartbreaking. I can't imagine receiving a package from my husband afterward and I can't imagine looking at photos he took from the last day.
    Break down. Cry. Scream. Rant at the world. I honestly believe it is your right.
    On a happier note, there must be something about mud and dirt and sand that fascinates men. Mr. HH took tons of photos of mud from Albania and literally hundreds of photos of sand from Iraq. Yes, that is an amazing sandstorm. I guess. It looks like an up close photo of your hand, but yes, please show me the 174 others you took. ;)

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  14. It really is okay to have those crappy days and anyone that tells you other wise is not being honest with you. I think there are times that you are gonna have to let yourself just fold up in on yourself and have agood cry, eat a gallon of ice cream, listen to those songs, and pull out the things that bring J to you. This is called coping, sometimes it is easy and sometimes it is hard.
    Thinking of you always. <3

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  15. Oh honey. I feel like that's all I can say. After reading that I having a stronger desire than ever to just come hug you.

    You definitely do not need to apologize for the lack of reading and commenting. Its completely understandable and no one expects you to. If it gives a little break from reality once in a while then great, but if its also too hard right now then that's perfectly okay.

    I think you must be made of sugar and nails...because you have got to be the sweetest AND toughest girl I know. Maybe not toughest, I think "most determined" probably fits best. You really aren't alone in this. Jonny is there, and so many people you've never even met pray for you every single day.

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  16. I can't imagine the pain. I really can't. You're incredibly strong. I'm crying just reading.

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  17. Thanks for updating us on how you're doing. You're so amazingly strong to be able to still express yourself so well via writing.

    Still praying for you hon.

    Semper Fi!

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  18. I read your posts and I am in awe of you. It is okay to be sad, to break down, but you have so much strength inside of you. Looking at the pictures had to be so difficult yet it is so wonderful that you have them. Just like the tape you will be getting, having his voice to listen to. Make sure to have copies made. My heart is heavy feeling your loss. I am so happy that you have your daughter, a part of him that you will always have. I know you want him, I want you to have him back so badly. Life sucks and I'm sorry that you have to be part of that. I wish that everyone could live until 90. I also wish that we could get everyone out of war, forever! Please know that I have you in my thoughts and in my prayers.

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  19. Oh sweetheart. Praying for you!

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  20. I am amazed and your strength and faith. You and Arianna continue to be in my thoughts & prayers.

    Semper Fi....

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  21. I cant imagine what it must be like to have that constant in flow of his stuff...and to know that you have one more coming with his voice...you're so strong. I think its perfectly okay to break down when you have all of these constant reminders. And its perfectly okay not to break down too.

    Hugs and prayers!

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  22. Well, some of those songs made ME Sad!
    YOU NEVER have to be mrs. strong all the time. I hope you dont feel the need to be.
    I cant believe you got his camera card and everything. I bet it was hard to look, but I would love to have that stuff too... you do right?

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  23. Hugs for you and the sweet baby.

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  24. Keep going girl. You are absolutely right, you are completely allowed to have bad days, sad days, whatever days. Look at your beautiful daughter and know that your Love will always be with his girls! Thoughts are with you xoxo

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  25. Music is such a beautiful gift, helps you feel connected when they aren't there. I think I've only heard the last two songs on the list before, but I'll definitely come back and listen to the others. Thanks for sharing, and for being open. Love you!

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  26. Still praying for you and your daughter. Your strength amazes me.

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  27. Every time I read one of your posts, I cry. I'm sure that is no comfort to you, but I am so sympathetic to what you are going through. My husband is in Afghanistan now, and I have actually cut and pasted a few of your entries into emails I've sent him (Blogger is blocked where he is). I do it so we can keep perspective about our situation, and remember to always pray and be thankful for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. I am amazed by your strength and honesty. Keep on keeping on...

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  28. You really are the strongest woman I know. I know you probably hear that a lot but, I honestly believe that. He is right there with you, guiding you every step of the way. You are a wonderful woman and I am thinking of you this week.

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  29. Your strength absolutely amazes me, I think of you and your daughter every day.

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  30. I can not imagine the pain, smiles and fears you are having. I lost a best guy friend that I was in love with at 23 ... but he was NOT a husband, dad, he was not my lover so I cna't imagine how raw it all is. I pray for you ... every day and night my kids 2.5 & 1.5 when when we talk about you! my baby will say Uh Hu when I pray for you and your family.
    Hugs!

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  31. You are so strong and you will get through this. It's perfectly fine to break down and cry. It's something you need..it's normal. For you to even be blogging is amazing. And you are right...he is right beside you and your daughter every step of the way! Keep your head up! Alot of prayers are with you!

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  32. Hang in there sweet girl, i cried and cried at your post- though i dont even know you i wish i was there to help! not that anything would help i guess... you and your baby girl are in my thoughts and prayers as always sweetie! semper fi

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  33. It sounds like you are doing all the right things. I know that may sound strange, but you are in the grieving process. You DO NOT have to be strong 100% of the time. You don't even have to know what you're feeling because I'm sure most of the time you don't. But you're leaning on friends, you're writing down and sharing your thoughts, and you're getting involved. I think it's great that you looked through those pictures, and I know that it may be difficult to listen to the tape, but one day I think you'll be happy to have those things, those mementos your husband left for you. Some days you may hate them, some days you may love them, but they're YOURS and HIS, and when your daughter gets a little older, they will be hers as well.

    And I think it's nice that you have songs that make you remember him. Although they may make you sad for awhile, hopefully one day you will hear them with a fondness and consider them yet another connection you have with him.

    Hang in there. Lean on us, your blogging friends, vent when you need to, cry when you need to, and follow your heart. There's no doubt that you're an incredibly strong woman. Hang in there and know that we're all here for you.

    I usually sign off on my comments to you with Keep Smiling, but you know what, if you don't feel like smiling...don't! Maybe you'll feel like smiling tomorrow. I hope that you do.

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  34. I know I'm not a blog person but I just want you to know you're the strongest person I've ever known in my life. And I love you. Always have.

    - Shan D

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  35. I know this is such a hard time for you, and I know you are probably hurting deeply, but your blog is uplifting to many people. My sorority recently did a project for the Marines and sent shirts and packages to them overseas as just a small token of our appreciation. May God Bless you always!

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  36. When I woke up this morning and realized today was the 14th, I thought about what this day might be like for you. And now that I've read your post about receiving more of Jonny's personal items...my heart breaks for you. You truely are amazing! Hang in there...we're all praying for you.

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  37. Thank you so much for your continued openness...you are spreading an important message to not only military spouses, but all people in general. Keep your head held high!

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  38. I have been quietly following your blog for a little while now.

    I can only say that if I could hug you, I would.

    You're in my thoughts and prayers.

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  39. You are so strong, even when you're not. You're absolutely amazing, and I'm sure you can get through this. He'll always be with you, no matter what. And so will all of us, always.

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  40. Remember to breathe and take the day just as it is handed to you. Being strong is a great attribute, but it doesn't always show in a time of grief.

    I learned, through my grief counseling class, that I will never get over my Mom's death but I will get through it.

    I wanted so badly for things to go back to normal, to have my Mom, best friend, mentor, etc. back. I would lie or dream that she was on vacation and that she would be home soon. She never came back from vacation and I woke up from my dream. What I do know is that her body is glorious as she has returned home to her maker!

    Keep your dreams alive, find courage to get up, and know that God is with you every step of the way! Your husband is healed and waiting for you. A lifetime on earth is a day in God's house.

    I found this passage last year:
    Philippians 3:21b
    ...will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

    Crying, shouting, disbelief, longing, and so many others are all emotions shown during grief. If you didn't show them, you wouldn't be handling it. I pray for God to keep you strong and to eventually ease your pain.

    I listened to this song over and over again (for weeks). It's tough to hear it, at first, but eventually calms an aching heart.

    John Waller - While I'm Waiting
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bb7TSGptd3Y

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  41. You are an Amazing Lady. I cannot even comprehend what all you have had to go through at such a young age. Every time I read your blog I feel the sadness in my heart. I will continue to Pray, and think of you and your daughter.

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  42. Ariana is blessed to have being raised by the amazing mama that you are. Your strength shines through. In your posts, you are speaking the words that we all cannot find ways to say. The "unknowns". feelings, emotions, rants.
    The songs were amazing. Hello, I am in Delaware, amazing. I shared you, and the song on my facebook today with the rest of my military wives.
    always in my thoughts.

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  43. Wow, this is the first time I have commented...but I have been quietly reading in the background. "I'm sorry for your loss" seems meager and poor to describe what you are going through. As a military wife myself with a husband in Afghanistan, your posts touch me. My thoughts are with you and your daughter.

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  44. You amaze me... no you don't have to Mrs Strength 100% of the time. But you are very strong and it comes through when you write. ((hugs))

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  45. Rachel, I've been sitting here a long time with this page open. Walked away and came back. Because I don't know what to say exactly.

    You're so brave and strong for sharing your struggles with us. I can't imagine how things are for you and I admire you so much. I'm always thinking of you.

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  46. I'm so glad that you guys recorded your voices...that's so special!!! And how beautiful is it going to be that your guys' daughter will always know her Daddy's voice! :o))) I'm so glad that you are still writing...I really hope it is helping you...I really hope the support is helping. You incredible! Keep your head up!!!

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  47. while reading your post, i felt a tear roll down my face both a sad and happy tear.
    i don't know how you feel nor will i tell you i know how it feels, but i do know that your strong, and that is what makes me happy!
    it's okay to cry, to be sad, mad an all the other emotions that usually come along with these kinds of things.
    but stay strong for yourself an for your baby girl.
    he will always be in your heart, and you will always be in his, just because he's in heaven doesnt mean anything. you still have the love for him that you have always had, he's there watching over you an your babygirl.
    your an amazing person, stay strong an eep your head up!

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  48. I second what Allissa said. You are being so strong even at your low points. Hugs to you!

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  49. I know you probably hear it all the time and that you also probably don't feel like it or believe it but you are so strong and inspiring. My heart just breaks everyday for you and what has been forced upon you. I wish I could send you hugs and love so that you could feel it. You are phenomenal.

    ♥ Mrs. S.

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  50. I have no words... just ***HUGS***

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  51. I have recently become acquainted with your blog, and my heart breaks for you and your daughter. I am a mom of 4 with a deployed husband, and people always tell me how strong I am and I giggle and think that they must not see the mess in my house, in my heart, in my mind . . . but the clarity of the love in my heart and the passion for my family is the testament to how much my life is what it should be. I have lost friends during hard times too, and I live every day in fear of losing my husband and I cannot tell you how much you are in my thoughts and prayers. I am thankful for your thoughts and words, and as time passes this will serve as a great way to teach your daughter about the wonderful man her father was. You are doing a great job, and don't worry about the dishes and laundry, it will always be there tomorrow to tend to.

    Hugs, love and prayers to you, Mrs.P. You are an amazing woman, mother and wife and I am proud to call you a sister in this crazy life we live. Semper Fi

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  52. I sit here thinking about what you say and I can't even imagine, but as a woman whose dad died at the age of 13 months, I am so glad that you do have those pictures for her. And what I can say is - write everything you can about him down, always share with her how much her daddy loved her. (I treasure that my mom always told me that). I still love to hear stories about him. I have every letter that my dad wrote my mother - it connects me to him, so do not throw anything away.
    I will be keeping up with you. You are an inspiration to others, even when you do not feel like it. God is using you and know that people are praying for you!

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  53. This brought tears to my eyes. My husband is a Navy diver and I have so often feared he would not return home. My heart breaks for you. Truly. I wish you all the best as you move forward. Thank you for sharing.

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  54. There are women twice your age who wouldn't be able to handle what you've gone through with as much grace and composure. May God give you the strength to continue on as bravely as you are now.

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  55. Rachel, you are one amazing woman and I think of you daily. HUGS to you and your baby girl.

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  56. You are so brave, and even if it is only on the surface to make others feel ok I know it goes way down deep. You and your daughter are a living testament to your beloved Jonny. As a Marine he is carried by all his brothers and sisters in arms. His name will be forever spoken by those that knew him and those who did not. Keep in contact with your husbands Marine brothers, my father was KIA in Vietnam and I learned so much about my dad from his buddies that stayed in my life over the years. I was only a baby as well and I learned things about my dad that only they could tell me, I never met him either but hearing about him from those men meant everything to me. I am proud to call you apart of our Marine Family. Keep doing exactly what you are doing and feeling whatever you feel.
    USMCWIFE8999 Heidi

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  57. You are truly an amazing person. It's ok not to be strong all the time. And you are right, he is right there with you every step of the way.

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  58. I feel bad because I've been reading your blog for awhile now and I've never written anything! But I just wanted to let you know that you are in my heart and I think of you and your baby girl all of the time. *hugs*

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  59. I had been absent from the blog world for awhile and just caught up on your posts yesterday.

    My heart is breaking for you and your beautiful daughter. I am sure that he is right there next to you, always. Many, many, many prayers from California.

    USAF, Teri

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  60. You are an amazing woman and I'm sending hugs, thoughts and prayers your way

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  61. I came across your blog last night, and I just wanted to tell you that you are so brave and strong. Your daughter is beautiful, and I wish you the best.

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  62. Big hugs to you. Always. Yes, Jonny is with you. And always will be.

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  63. I'm tearing up. You are amazing and strong and a wonderful example to your daughter. Hang in there!

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  64. Dear Rachel, I'm sorry for all the pain you're going through. I feel terrible just trying to imagine how hard it would be to look at the last pictures he'd taken:( and to recieve a package from him... Yes, you're a very strong and amazing person and although the pain will not disappear I can tell that you're already learning how to live with it. And if you have a rough day -- write about it, pour your heart out right here on your blog, we'll support you and help you as much as we can. My heart goes out to you and Ariana.

    HUGS, Irena

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  65. I stumbled upon this- http://www.theyhavenames.com/ - and thought I would share it. Love reading and crying with you.

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  66. I have an award for you on my blog! You're ALWAYS in my prayers.

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  67. My husband just recently became a soldier...I guess we're all the same in that we know in the back of our minds what could happen. My heart breaks for you, how strong you must have to be with a baby!

    God bless, you are now in my prayers.

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  68. As pretty much every other person has said before me-- You are so strong, inspirational, beautiful, amazing, and I wish I could give you a big tight hug and some chocolate.

    My heart will be with you when you open Johnny's package. My chest got so tight reading about it. It's so heartbreaking yet such a blessing to have. *hugs*

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  69. You are strong women who is making your family proud. My heart goes out to you, your family, and those who he served with. That tape will be a treasured memory. God Bless. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

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  70. I started following you a few days ago, but your posts and your situation put me in tears and I couldn't bring myself to comment yet. I just wanted to let you know that you have a new follower and a new usmc-wifey friend, girl. Semper Fi, much love, and many well wishes your way.

    PS: I took your button.

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  71. I wish I could give you a hug. I know that probably doesn't help, but I wanted you to know I'm thinking about you even though it's from miles away.

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  72. Hi, I came across your blog while blog hopping. Words can't even express what I truly want to convey. As a fellow military wife, I understand how hard it is to be strong when you just want to break down and cry. But you are truly remarkable. Wishing you and your sweet girl the best.

    Semper Fi,
    Michelle

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  73. I happened to find your blog while browsing. Your title caught my interest as I am also a military wife. I'm sure that nothing I can say could possibly offer you comfort right now...But for what it's worth-I was so moved by reading your posts. You are truly an amazingly strong person and I'm sending all thoughts and prayers your way!

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  74. Hi. I came across your blog from a fellow bloggy Marine Wife, 'The Wifey'

    My heart completely breaks for you and for your daughter. You are a strong and remarkable woman. I can't imagine being able to stand strong if this were to ever happen to me. You're an inspiration for me to suckittheeffup, and accept (never be okay with) the fact that it's his job, and this is what he is trained to do.

    Anyway, to end my novel of a comment. You and your beautiful baby girl are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Hugs from the East Coast.
    Semper Fi,
    Sydney.

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  75. You haven't posted this week and I hope you're coping all right. I just want you to know that you are in my thoughts and prayers completely and I respect you very deeply for who you are and what you are going through right now. Here's a hug...

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  76. Gave you an award on my blog! ;o))) Hope you are doing good! Still saying lots of prayers for you & Ariana!

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  77. my heart is broken for you and your precious baby. Thank God you will always have that beautiful piece of your husband. I am an Army fiance and obviously my biggest fear is that knock at the door. I think you are amazingly strong. I wish this didn't happen to you or the thousands of other families that have given their most important piece for their country

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  78. "The Wind In The Flag"
    Ben Hur Lampman, 1947


    Then do not think of them as being yonder in alien earth with little white crosses above. They are not there. For these were boys who loved the homeland -- her fields and forests, lakes and streams, her villages and cities. These were the boys who went to school here -- and would they stay away when they were mustered out? These were the boys who fished our creeks and climbed our mountains; the boys who plowed our fields and harvested our wheat; who manned our factories and each enterprise of peace. It is not right to think of them as being where they seem to be. It isn't fair. Often they used to talk of going home, and surely -- when death set them free -- surely they came. Now we who knew them well must know they are not there who are forever here, inseparable from the land for which they died. No troopship brought them home, for they came home the quicker and the shorter way. Is it the wind that stirs the flag?

    Nor should we think of them as being beneath the sea, where the plane plunged or the wounded ship went down, fathom upon green fathom. They are not there. For these were boys whose laughter scarcely hid from us the consecration which they felt, and when they said that they would soon get it over and come home, they meant it, every word. She called them from their classes and the ball grounds, she called them from the desk and lathe, and from the homes that meant as much to them as to any that ever loved his home with the full measure of devotion. They never thought to see the world, at least until they might be middle-aged, but soon they saw it, island after island, port after foreign port, and many an island was fenced round with flame, and there was one port that they did not fetch. They died too soon to reach it and to hear the bands and speeches. But we who knew them, surely we must know that they were here before that, for they had said they would come home the moment that they could. And so they aren't there, but here. The ship came back without them, if it came at all, but they were here, not there. Is it the wind that stirs the flag again?

    And where they kept the bargain, they who died for land and liberty, it matters not at all, nor where they seem to rest -- under the little white crosses or under the sea, or namelessly in the deep jungle. For they were boys who would not stay away when they were done with service, since often they had told themselves the first thing they should do would be to hasten home. And home they must have come. Where the trout rises or the grouse leaps into flight, or at the ball park, or along the seashore, these were the places that they loved -- these that forever are our country, and to which they, by their passing, have confirmed our title. They are here surely enough, and shall be for so long as liberty and America are one, and the flag means still what they knew it meant -- though they didn't say much about it. That was something they left to the orators and the politicians, and the editors. Do not think of them as being elsewhere. For they are not there -- who are here. Look. The light wind stirs the flag as though it caressed it, fold after fold. Look!

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