In honor of Memorial Day, I thought I would share a scene that I had to delete from Phoebe and Will’s story. There was nothing wrong with the scene, the book as a whole was just too long and I had to cut parts that weren’t integral to the story. As much as I liked including a little bit of history of Memorial Day, called Decoration Day at its inception, the scene really didn’t add much to the overall story. So it was cut from the manuscript.
There is one important thing that was lost with the cutting of this scene… a little insight into Esther and Phoebe’s little sister, Sarah, the heroine of my upcoming Book 4. It isn’t a long insight, but it tells a lot that helps to shape her character in the fourth book. I am almost finished editing Sarah’s story, so stay tuned for more on her!
“I just love Decoration Day,” Mrs. Albright sighed.
Phoebe had to agree. Although a somber day, it was a beautiful kind of somber that touched Phoebe’s soul. She especially appreciated it this year as it broke up the monotony that had become her life.
In the two weeks since Will’s final visit, Phoebe’s life hadn’t changed much. She still found the days to drag on with little to do, although she did keep her promise to visit Esther more often. Occasionally she would accompany her father when he went calling on members of the congregation, one of her favorite parts of his ministry, or help her mother deliver food to the sick and shut-ins. But mostly, she found herself bored, wishing she had some sort of occupation to keep her busy. So, when Decoration Day came, and all the events that went with it, she was very excited.
The day began as usual with a parade downtown. Soldiers, old and young, dusted off their uniforms and paraded through the town to the sound of a drum and fife. All the children in town, including Sarah, dressed in white and carried wreaths made of flowers. Sarah had risen early to make her wreaths from the flowers of Mrs. Albright’s garden. The parade ended at the cemetery, where there were patriotic speeches from former soldiers and a couple of politicians.
The speeches were inspiring. They spoke of our great country and the sacrifices made by these fallen men to keep our country safe. Phoebe looked at the soldiers, of all various shapes, sizes and ages, and thought that the only common thread among them was that they were Americans. It was so easy to take for granted the simple liberties that she enjoyed and to forget that so many sacrificed so much. Beyond the soldiers, the Michigan State Constabulary sat on their horses, watching the events. Many, if not all, of these men served their country, and now they served their state in peacetime. Phoebe felt a twinge of regret when she remembered some of the things she had said to Will and the impudence she had shown him over the use of the name ‘officer.’ He deserved her respect – he had earned it, just like all of these men here.
After the speeches, Reverend Albright had the honor of reading the names of all the soldiers that had given their lives and were buried there. As he was reading, the children placed their wreaths on the graves of the fallen. Sarah, still a little too young to understand the solemnness of the situation, skipped from grave to grave, until she caught sight of the look her mother was giving. She immediately slowed her stride and behaved in a more respectful manner.
“That child will be the death of me,” whispered Mrs. Albright.
“But that’s exactly it, Momma. She’s just a child,” replied Phoebe.
“She’ll be thirteen next month! Besides, you never acted like that.”
“Phoebe was never a child, Momma,” Esther whispered. “She was born an adult.”
The two sisters smiled at one another. Esther had always teased her about being so serious all the time, and it was true. Phoebe had always been more mature and responsible than others her age. She certainly never skipped between the graves, but being serious all the time wasn’t good, either. It was fun to watch her little sister gallivant about, and even watch her get into mischief.
After her father was finished reading the names, a soldier played a melancholy tune on his bugle. The wind whipped the nearby flag almost in time with the music, as if including itself in the ceremony. When the song finished, Reverend Albright prayed.
“Dear Father in Heaven, we thank you for this fine country that we are blessed to be citizens of. We thank you for the freedoms that have been hard fought. Thank you for the soldiers that have sacrificed for those freedoms, especially those who gave their lives. May we never take for granted all we are blessed with. And as we remember those who have sacrificed, may it be a reminder to us that the ultimate sacrifice was given by your son, Jesus Christ, so that we may find freedom from sin through His sacrifice. Bless the United States of America and all who fear you. We ask this in the matchless name of Jesus, Amen.”