My Thoughts on Memorial Day

Here Rests In Honored Glory An American Soldier Known But To God

Last June, I was in Washington, D.C. for a short series of meetings. I had some free time before one of those meetings and I decided to squeeze in a little sightseeing. When I realized how easy it is to take the Metro (subway) to Arlington National Cemetery, my mind was set. Next stop, Arlington.

To my knowledge, I don’t have any relatives buried at Arlington. Still, simply walking the grounds is a sobering and humbling experience. Visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is especially moving. Staring over the vast number of graves – men and women who served, many who died while protecting our freedom – one cannot help but think about how very lucky we are.

The cemetery was crowded, and people were moving slowly. That was fine by me. I enjoyed looking at some of the section markers and, as is typical for Washington, DC, it was hot and humid, so a slow pace was perfect. It seems selfish to feel like you’re suffering when standing among so many graves, but summer weather in DC brings you to that point.

Returning from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I was following a mother and her two children. They were Hispanic. I wouldn’t normally mention that, but it’s important to the story. As a large group from a school field trip was approaching, the younger child tugged at the woman’s arm and complained. Unable to walk around them, I found myself unintentionally eavesdropping:

It’s hot.”

I know it’s hot honey. We’ll be back at the welcome center in a few minutes.”

Are these people related to us?

No. We don’t have any relatives buried here.”

Then why did we have to come here?

Because all of these people died fighting to keep this country free. These people died so we could come here to live.”

All of them?

Yes, all of them. That’s why we came to visit…to show them some respect and to thank them.”

I’m not going to extend this in support of a political or social agenda. I’m just going to say that I was impressed with the lesson this woman was teaching her children.

I hope we can take this woman’s message to heart today. I hope we can give some thought, and offer a few prayers for the brave men and women who died fighting for us, and the families they left behind. I hope we can also reflect on the many freedoms they fought for.

About Dan Antion

Husband, father, woodworker, cyclist, photographer, geek - oh wait, I’m writing this like I only have 140 characters. I am all those things, and more, and all of these passions present me with opportunities to observe, and think about things that I can’t write about in other places. I have started this blog to catch the stuff that falls out, overflows and just plain doesn’t fit the other containers in my life.
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65 Responses to My Thoughts on Memorial Day

  1. Well done, Dan. Well done indeed. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hallowed ground for sure. I’ve been to Arlington a couple of times, and it is always a humbling experience. Each stone has an individual story, but they all have one thing in common and that is they made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf. Our flag can’t fly high enough to express our appreciation on Memorial Day.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. rwzagami says:

    I have often said that everyone should visit Arlington National Cemetery at least once in their lives to grasp the history, honor and legacy of those who have died fighting for this country, and all of us so fortunate to live in America. I have been several times, but the most memorable was when I attended the funeral of the father of one of my employees. His Dad was killed in Viet Nam and was listed as Missing in Action for over thirty years until his remains were identified through DNA testing. I had the honor of attending his father’s burial ceremony in the chapel at Arlington National Cemetery, and walking behind the flag-draped caisson to his final resting place. It was absolutely one of the most moving events of my life, and drove home the importance of honoring each and every individual that died fighting for this country, and thanking God that we were not lying there with them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s an incredibly moving story, Dan. Made me teary. War cemeteries are sobering places. The most moving for me were those at Gallipoli. So many young boys who didn’t really understand what they were getting into and let down by those in charge.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jennie says:

    Thank you for this post, Dan. I enjoyed the photos tremendously, especially the plaques. Did you know that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was carved at the Vermont Marble factory? It is now a museum, and wonderfully informative. If you’re

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jennie says:

    Ooops… if you’re in western New England, a great stop. The story of the mother and her child was wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. bikerchick57 says:

    Wonderful, Dan. I’ve been to Arlington (although not quite as crowded) and it is indeed sobering. The number of graves is overwhelming and a reminder of how our soldiers fought, won and maintain the freedom for this melting pot of a country. I would recommend a visit to anyone going to D.C. to truly experience what photos can’t convey. Thanks for this post and Happy Memorial Day.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A beautiful and moving tribute to our Heroes Dan! The story of the mom and her children is wonderful!

    It’s been many years since I visited Arlington National Cemetery. I’ll never forget how moved I was at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Never Forget!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Liu Min says:

    Salute to the fallen soldiers!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. been there – done that – loved it

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Arlington National Cemetery is a place which will stay in my memory for ever. We didn’t speak a word.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. dweezer19 says:

    In spite of some of my deeper feelings regarding war, I agree that it is a very humbling experience to walk through Arlington National Cemetery. But I am humbled walking through any cemetery and reading the epitaphs. I often winder how many unsung heroes there are, or were in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Cemeteries are special places. I enjoy, perhaps that isn’t the right word, walking through old cemeteries as well as those where my relatives are resting. Arlington is unique in that so many of those people died fighting for our freedom.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. dweezer19 says:

    PS. These soldiers fought not only for the freedoms of this country but for those of the world, people they don’t even know. That’s true sacrifice.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. misifusa says:

    Dan, great post today. Love the photos as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Beautiful, Dan. You said a lot for those of us who have a family member in Arlington. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. JT Twissel says:

    I always make time to go Arlington when I’m in DC. It’s just so moving.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Joanne Sisco says:

    I’ve only been to Washington once for just a few days and Arlington was on the agenda. Although all cemeteries are special place, Arlington certainly stands well over and above.
    This was a touching visit, Dan, that reminded me of the emotion I felt while walking through that cemetery on a very hot summer afternoon.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. That is a fantastically moving story, Dan. Made me weepy…

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Anonymous says:

    What a lovely woman. I support her decision. Thank you for this, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Thank you for sharing this Dan….very poignant!! We are a very blessed country and tend to take it for granted. My heartfelt thanks to all those that fought and died for our country…you are remembered!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. A touching post, Dan. The American ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are worth fighting for. My heart goes out to all those who lost their lives in standing for those principles.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Mél@nie says:

    impressive and emotional, Sir… we visited Arlington several years ago and we found out that the only foreigner buried there was the French architect Pierre L’Enfant – the very designer of your capital – DC…

    Liked by 1 person

  23. As much as I (and millions of others) dream of a world at peace, some wars have to be fought to protect democracy and populations from crazy dictators and other power-thirsty dirigeants.
    We also took our children to Arlington years ago. The kids were still young and my son didn’t understand why there were so many tombs and flags. But he understood the significance through the silence that most people respect when visiting Arlington. Not sure I was as eloquent as the mom you describe. But my son was phsyically moved when we stopped at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A year later we visited the Unknown Soldier buried under the Arc de Triumph in Paris.
    For some reason these tombs are the most meaningful to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      I think those are the most meaningful, because they speak to the selflessness of their sacrifice. Not only do we not know who they are, but for each of them, there’s a family that never knew the true fate of their loved ones. Thanks for visiting and adding your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Aunt Beulah says:

    That was a lovely, lovely story Dan and your thoughts about it were lovely as well. Thank you for sharing it on Memorial Day and helping me to pause and reflect.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. My mom and her Dad are both there. It brings me a lot of comfort to know that they’re in such a sacred place. Her ashes are within sight of the Washington Monument, where we used to fly kites when I was a kid. It’s really beautiful there.

    Liked by 1 person

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