The morning of Ted Mor gan’s memorial service was a rainy April Monday in 2019.

“It’s an extraordinary life we celebrate today,” I said, an umbrella in one hand, my other half-consciously saluting. “An incredible life, sir; an amazing man, really,” responded a yellow-slickered police officer. Looking around, a handful of other uniformed men and women quietly saluted back, the gestures at once natural and crisp. Parking was coned off from the Dr. Daniel Fisher house down Main street. The service would be standing-room only.

Inside the Methodist Church — today the Old Whaling Church — just a few people had yet arrived. A composed, gracious-looking young woman sat quietly by herself in a forward pew. As the service closed, I learned she was longtime Morgan family friend Joanne Cassidy when she, as Kathie Case a few days later wrote in the Gazette, “ . . . ended the service with the song I’ll be Seeing You in only the way she could, beautiful, meaningful and full of love.”

Over the weekend, I had been thinking about Lieut. Col. Fred B. Morgan — 82nd Airborne, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, a storied, multifaceted career, a noble public servant. Dear God, I had asked myself, where will we get people like this? Sitting there, the trompe l’oeil and rising cacophony of footsteps and whispers wrapped around me, I was thinking how lucky I was to be there. You see, I am a summer person. My Island trip was happenstance that Monday.

I faintly remember Mr. Morgan’s visits to my grandparents, Ben and Hildegard Cohan’s house out on the Great Plains — Ted’s baritone was not easy to forget. The Cohans, having, bought Great Plains Farm from Ronald and Dorothy Wild at the end of World War II, sold their Wellesley home to Gen. James M. Gavin in the late 1950s. As third Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne, he had been Ted’s superior officer. The general and his family rented a house from the Cohans on the farm that summer; I think it was around 1959.

I suspect Ben helped Ted Morgan, who would have been in his late 30s, reconnect with Jumpin Jim Gavin. Imagine the humility and modesty of these two giants.

Visiting Ted and Floss 10 years ago at their home (Ted was helping with the Edgartown Public Library project) I brought with me the August 1958 issue of Life Magazine with General Gavin on the cover. Ted held it in his hands for a moment, and then turned it for Mrs. Morgan to see. There was a pause while she looked at picture. He watched her and then turned to look me in the eye. “Rob, General Gavin pinned my wings on me!” he exclaimed. Briefly, his eyes welled up with tears.

To this day, I can still hear him saying those words.

Twenty-five World War II jumps. Thirty-three days in combat behind enemy lines. Where did we find — and where will we find — people like this?

It’s Memorial Day. Be here. Let’s remember.

Rob Hughes lives in Santa Barbara, Calif., and the Katama Great Plains.