There was no need for words. The four Veterans were there to honor over 1,100 of their fellow Veterans interned at Camp Lewis Cemetery, their white gravestone markers standing like sentinels in neat rows.
Each of the 13 folds of the Stars and Stripes was gently laid over to create yet another triangle of cloth. The rough, work-calloused and tattooed fingers of the four Veterans respectfully and with dignity handled our living symbol of blood-bought freedom.
At the fifth fold, “Bear” paused and looked across at “Postal” before glancing down the Stripes to where “Freek” and “Smokehouse” held the Stars.
These four brothers from three branches of service holding opposite sides of the flag held opposing political views.
But there was a sense of oneness as they folded the flag.
At the fifth fold – the one that symbolically serves as a prayer for America – they silently acknowledged that America is still our country.
Veterans are husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who became warriors and leaders who stood together to serve this nation.
They had put their lives on the line around the world in places like Europe, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Many did not come home. And for those who did, they slipped back into civilian life – unsung and unrecognized.
But on that damp morning at Camp Lewis Cemetery in the respectful silence of those Veterans who had crossed over, these four Veterans respectfully held and folded the threads of red and white and blue to honor and remember them all.