Today I looked over my fence into my neighbor's yard and saw a sea of American flags waving in the breeze. It was a magical moment - a stirring tribute - a deeply touching display of honor for Bill Rawlings by his children.
Bill died yesterday . . . on Veteran's Day. I can't think of a more fitting benediction to a man who served his country with honor. Bill was in most of the major battles in Europe during World War II and saw things no man should have to see. What kept him going and gave him the will to survive was a sweetheart waiting stateside. Ann wrote to him several times a week. They'd met in junior high and it was love at first sight. If he made it home alive they were going to get married. Bill made it home. They raised seven wonderful children together.
Now there are 86 flags standing stately in Bill's yard, each representing one year of his life and 5 more for each of the major campaigns he fought in.
Bill has been in frail health for several years. But he has been determined to stay alive so he could take care of his sweetheart.
I think God looked down on this couple who had cared for each other with such tenderness for so long and granted their greatest wish . . . that they wouldn't have to be separated for long. Ann died two weeks ago.
Not many couples get to leave this life so close together. Not many honored veterans die on Veteran's Day. Not many couples have such a storybook ending to a rich and beautiful life.
I love you Bill and Ann. I'll miss you.