Another weekend has come and gone, and here we are saying hello to Monday all over again. What a weekend it was.
A time honored tradition in my family is to go to the cemetery to visit my grandparents the first good weather day we can after Thanksgiving so we can put down the blanket. The blanket, is for us, a wreath that we decorate and place at the grave site. Some florists sell grave blankets, but we have always liked the idea of decorating one ourselves. It makes it more personal.
I’ve been going with my mom since I was a little girl. We wait till after Thanksgiving because the cemetery allows us to place grave blankets down only after that date. We hope that it doesn’t snow before we are allowed to get there. The saying in our family is…”The blanket is down, now it can snow, because we know they have a blanket to keep them warm in the cold winter”
As a little girl my cousin and I would always find change at the headstone. We were always told they were “Pennies from Heaven that Grandpa would send down for us to find because he was seeing his little girls” I never met my grandfather, he passed away in 1966. With the passing of time and growing up, we realized that the “pennies from heaven” really were from our moms. But funny enough the older I got, and still to this day, I sometimes find pennies or loose change around their headstone as well as little rocks that I often take as a little memento.
So this weekend when we made our way to the cemetery , with my car filled with the smell of pine, which I normally hate except for when I have the blanket in my car, mom and I talked about Christmas’s past.
Upon entering the National Cemetery, finding my way as if I was driving home, I thought to myself “I wonder if that American Flag was still wedged between the tree and headstone of the Vietnam Veteran” Not remembering his name but remembering what I had seen on my last trip in September.
We parked the car and made our way to their spot, following the crooked tree all the way there. Our blanket this year was not what we had really wanted, but it was special and it was put together with love. Some little mementos and decorations to bring the spirit of Christmas to them and keep them warm in the cold winter to come.
After saying our prayers and a quick look for pennies or rocks (none to be found this year but I did find some in September) we made our way back to the car. I notices while walking the somber row of stones, a ribbon of red highlighted by the glaring sun.
The flag was still there. Wedged between the headstone and hearty tree trunk. “How did it get there? How long has it been there? Why did someone put it there?” Mom wondered what I was doing so I filled her in as I walked off the path to the row beyond me. The ground was damp from the rain over the last few days, and some renovations were taking place nearby as well. I treaded lightly as usual, always feeling I’m disrupting as I walk over gravesites.
I took a photo, because I felt I needed to tell this mans story. Upon researching, I am only able to find information about this site through the Military Grave Search, and also another Robert E, Schantz that is on the Missing Marines site but has a different date of birth. Still wanting to know more about the man who has a flag wedged at his gravesite, which looks to be there for quite some time, I feel I need to do more. Exactly what at this point I’m not sure. But for now I will leave you with this loving photo tribute to Mr. Robert Edwin Schantz. May he, and all the souls lost, rest in peace.