Yesterday was Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer and the day Americans go out of their way to honor and, obviously, memorialize the men and women in uniform who have served and given their lives for our country.
It would have been a crime to live in DC and not take an hour to go to Arlington National Cemetery.
The husband had never been, and I hadn’t been since the family spent part of a summer in Virginia while the dad did his Navy stuff, more than fifteen years ago. It was 95 degrees and while we were as dressed for the weather as possible, it was still slow going for the husband and ol’ preggers and after shuffling our way up the hills to watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we shuffled our way back down and went home.
As we walked past a group of veterans clad in their biker gear and looking at a map, I caught part of their conversation:
“It’s a half-hour.”
“How do you figure?”
“Well it’s ten minutes to Kenny then another twenty to Mikey.”
“Oh, I thought you meant a half hour to get to Kenny in the first place.”
So many of the markers at Arlington are uniform. Crisp, white-and-gray marble lined up flawlessly, like the soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen they stand tribute to. On Memorial Day each stone gets an American flag poked into the ground in front of it so not one grave is left undressed even if no family and friends come to lay flowers. The markers might all look the same for the most part but each one represents a life that was unique and valued, each one stands for an individual man or woman who was gone but is not forgotten, like Kenny and Mikey.
A few military jets did fly overs and salutes to Arlington as we arrived and that was something to see. We’d like to bring our kid/s to the cemetery each Memorial Day for as long as we live in the area so that they are neither sheltered from nor ignorant of the sacrifice, loss, dignity, and honor that accompany serving our nation in uniform.
Thank you to all who serve and their families who share them with this country. The husband said he was proud to go to the cemetery with the daughter of a veteran. I was proud to be one.