Each year on the Saturday before Memorial Day, I force take my daughter to the Santa Maria Cemetery to help the local VFW put flags on the graves of veterans. We typically go with other members of the local Children of the American Revolution (C.A.R.) group, but this year, everyone else seemed to have plans, so it was just the two of us.

This was our 4th consecutive year of helping out. My job was to poke a hole in the ground with a screwdriver – and I now have a nice, big bruise on the palm of my right hand. Daughter’s job was to put the flag in the hole. This is not as easy as it sounds, especially for a 4 (almost 5) year-old.

We’ve learned from our previous visits that the ground is often muddy and wet… hence the pink rain boots. It is also cold and damp on most Central Coast mornings – even in the summer – so dressing in layers is a good idea.

We (I) read out loud the name, rank, and service of each veteran to whom we gave a flag. My daughter can only read very basic words now, but she was able to pick out many of the veterans graves all by herself (they all look pretty much the same).

Surprisingly, there were not as many volunteers from the community out this year. In the past, we’ve arrived at 8:00 a.m., or shortly afterwards, and there were so many people helping that the job was almost complete. We worked for over an hour this time, putting out at least 60 flags, and finally stopped when my daughter’s attention span was maxed… and my hand was too sore to poke any more holes.

Note to self: next year, wear thick gloves.

We had some great mommy-daughter bonding time, and enjoyed honoring our veterans. My daughter kept jumping up and down telling me how much fun she was having.

I’m very proud of my little girl, who thinks honoring our servicemembers is a fun way to spend a Saturday morning.

Copyright © by Elizabeth O’Neal

Elizabeth is a professional genealogist and California native living in the Santa Barbara area. She has been researching her own family for almost three decades, and providing research services to others for about 8 years.

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