The cemetery is quiet. Serene. There are no frightening specters here, no creepy feelings. The idea of ghosts here conjures up images of spirits enjoying a picnic or strolling thoughtfully among the paths of graves, rather than anything out of a horror movie. It is like this even at night. A peaceful place.
Today, though, the sun shines brightly, but a cool breeze makes it slightly uncomfortable without a jacket. The flags like it, though - they flutter proudly, occasionally snapping to attention over the graves. Luckily, few here have fallen in the line of duty, despite the presence of a military base not thirty miles away. Most of these flags fly over those who survived their varied hells and were strong enough to live full lives afterwards. Those who saw their brothers and sisters in arms willingly make the ultimate sacrifice and understood that they themselves were willing to make it, too.
Smoke drifts lazily over the brick wall that seperates the cemetery from the residential area of the city that surrounds it. It carries the tang of the barbecue the region is known for, and even a faint whisper of the Pacific Ocean. Images of a father spring to mind, an indulgent bottle of beer in one hand and a pair of tongs in the other, expertly cooking meat - real meat, of good quality - for his family and friends. A gathering of people who laugh and joke and love and unknowingly celebrate everything those on the other side of the fence gave to them.
Because the best thing about this country is the ability to stand in a quiet cemetery, on Memorial Day, watching the flags of the fallen and listening to the laughter of children, who have never been touched by war, as they play on the other side of the fence.
May we never take this for granted.