I worried when the Black River was so low some years, poking along underneath the Main Street bridge in front of our home on Memorial Day. The Gold Star Mothers had just arrived in one of Ludlow’s only convertibles: they struggled out of the car wrapped around in American flags, looking enormous waddling up to the edge of the bridge’s railing, waiting for the trumpet to start sounding the Taps across the river near the Hope’s house. I worried Because the memorial wreathe could get hung up, Snagged by the messed-up debris under the edge of the bridge’s middle concrete abutment. As the trumpet started playing Taps, I noticed the wreathe still balanced on the cement railing, waiting its turn to be pushed into the sluggish Black River on its way to the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound and the Atlantic ocean. The Gold Star Mothers filled up the middle of the bridge next to the High School Band, bulked up by their American Flag costumes Cocooned in the Stars and Stripes. I listened to the echoing Taps from Earl, Who stood in the middle of the Band on the bridge, remembering how my Grandmother had weeded and planted in her rock garden the day before, next to our side of the bridge, and how her oldest son, Sherburn Clyde Searl, Jr. had been severely wounded by mistaken German shrapnel during the Second War and had lost a leg. The Gold Star Mothers had lost their sons killed in action And now the mothers showed up Decorated in their mourning flags, Standing in the middle of the bridge over the Black River sending their multi-colored elaborately decorated wreathe into the trickle of water beneath them Remembering, praying for their boys.
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