Friday, July 23, 2010

Family Trip, Part III--Arlington National Cemetery

One of the places I HAD to visit while in the Washington, DC area was Arlington National Cemetery.  We have a family friend buried there and none of the family has traveled to see his grave.  It's always weighed on my mind that I have not been there yet. 

Arlington is such a sobering place....which I guess it should be.... being a cemetery and all.  You can't begin to explain just how many graves are there and that EVERY SINGLE grave represents someone who gave up their life for our country.  It really is amazing! 

Rain was called for everyday so we decided to visit Arlington first just in case it rained the rest of the week.  It was a really overcast day but oh so humid!  Like walking in soup.  The tour mobile would take you around the cemetery but we of course needed to go off the beaten path to visit Jim. 

Jim served in WWII in the Pacific as a young man.  I wish now I had asked him more about his experiences,  but I was young and that's the way it is I guess.  You don't realized you have questions until it's too late. 

We tried to explain the reason for the visit to the kids but they really didn't get it...which is to be expected.  I don't think I want them to get IT at this time to be honest.  They collected feathers and played in the rocks beneath Jim's grave.  I think he would have liked that. 

We walked in such heavy humidity for hours to visit each of the graves we wanted to pay our respects to.  John F. Kennedy's grave was of course on the other side of the cemetery from Jim's.  The Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers was up hill both ways from President Kennedy's grave. 

By the time we got to the Tomb of the Unknown Solider the children was more than done.  Everyone had sweated through their clothes and were hungry.  Bubby was very interested in the soldier gun and why he was carrying it and if he was going to use it.  I sat and watched this young soldier march back in forth in front of the Tomb.  I watched the sweat run down his face and he never batted an eye. 

I thought if he can do this I can do just a tenth of what he is doing.  So, we stood and watched the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and were humbled. 

We saw very old graves that, to be honest, were just stones in the ground and then we saw VERY new graves.  New graves of VERY young men and women.  One grave had a framed letter from a dad.  The dad was writing a letter to his dead son.  It was heartbreaking.  I almost took a picture of it but it seemed disrespectful somehow. 

On a lighter note there were some Amish men at the cemetery.  I thought this was interesting.  I also thought it was interesting that one was talking on his cell phone about dinner plans. 

You just never know the sites you will see in the big city.  :) 


Dawn said...

Ok i feel the need to have some Certs with retzen now.....

Megan said...

I've never been to this cemetery too, It looks very nice and clean. Thank you for sharing this post.

Pamela said...

That cemetery is very clean. I think it is nice to have picnik there :P. Peaceful.