On this Memorial Day weekend, I find my thoughts and memories have taken me back to some old relationships and people I knew who once wore the uniforms of the military, but passed on after serving their country.
That is what Memorial Day has come to mean to me, even though it is supposed to be in recognition of those who did not survive their military service.
This year, though, it took an odd turn.
I was near Children of Israel Cemetery, down there on Middle Road, a few days ago, so I went in to pay respects to a couple of guys who were in the old Army Air Corps, as I was.
One was Wendy Coltin, with whom I worked at the Gazette for many years. The other was Harry Fleet who, like me, was in some of Harold Livingston's books. Well, our names were.
In any event, I followed a Jewish custom and put a little rock on the gravestones of each of them. As Wendy once told me, the rocks don't fade like flowers do, and they are a lasting reminder that the deceased is not forgotten.
However, as I stopped at Harry's grave, I saw something unusual. Up to that point, I had not seen a rock any bigger than a baseball on a gravestone.
But just a few feet from Harry's grave there was a monument standing alone, not in a row of several as in most cases.
What was also unusual was that this odd monument had only two rocks on it, but they were the biggest ones I had ever seen on a headstone in any cemetery. I couldn't even move them without special effort, they were so heavy.
I noted that this was the grave of Mitchell Sandler, and the last name seemed familiar, connected with an auto parts store in Bradford for several years.