I decided last week, that on Saturday before Memorial Day I would pay a visit to an old friend. I am talking about Leon Spearman the “unclaimed veteran” I wrote about last year. I have been back to visit his grave once since his burial last year when the NC Patriot Guard Riders became his family and escorted his body and “stood” for him at his funeral.
I made a list of graves I wanted to visit, and went online to the Cemetery website to make note of where they were buried. I have a couple that I visit each time I am there. The first Wreaths Across America event I attended a few years back, the speaker asked us to make note of the name where we placed our wreaths, Google them, and learn about the person. I did that, and trust me it really hits home when you read about someone’s life after placing a wreath on their grave!
I visited my list of names, saving Leon for last. When I got my information from the website, I did not get Leon’s since I “knew” where he was, boy was that a big mistake! I only thought I knew where he was. I spent over an hour alone searching for Leon’s grave. My last visit to the cemetery was this past year in December for the Wreath Laying; I was walking and talking with a friend, basically not paying enough attention to where I was going. I moved my car three different times, got out and searched different sections of the cemetery. I stood at the top of the hill, overlooking white markers in four directions, thinking to myself, “this is just totally impossible”! There are acres of identical white markers, it was very overwhelming. I took a break for a minute, playing in my mind conversations between Leon and myself. I could hear his calm southern voice saying, “you be careful going home my friend” and “tell your husband you have an old friend praying for you both”. I remember asking him once, about his spot at the facility right by the door, he told me he liked to sit there and watch the cars go by, and see who was coming and going at the facility.
I had one section left to search, I began at the top and as I neared the bottom of the hill, with only four rows left to look through I thought to myself, I just cannot go home without finding Leon. There were a few people out visiting at the cemetery on this Saturday, and I am sure by this time they thought I was the “crazy lady” who kept wandering around. Yes, I admit it, I had also been talking to myself! Just as I was almost back to my car, I looked down and there he was three or four rows from the road, in section 11, the first section you see when you round the curve, the section that everyone passes to reach their destination. It was quite a moment for me, laughing my head off, looking at Leon’s marker. I just looked down and said…. “Well my old friend you still have your special spot by the door, seeing everyone who comes and goes!”
Thank you for your service Leon, and you will never be forgotten!