a place of rest for our nation’s heros.
today i visited arlington national cemetery for the first time. my grandmother is in town, and we ventured to the cemetery to visit the grave of my uncle ricky who died in vietnam in 1969. although she has visited his grave many times over the last 40 years it is still an emotional journey and i was grateful for the opportunity to be by her side today.
it was a cool, sunny afternoon and apart from the groups of tourists near the visitors center and the notable grave sites of JFK and others, the grounds were very quiet. in the far reaches of section 17 we were completely alone as we searched the rows for his name, and found it tucked under the shade of a large tree, close to the edge of the grounds.
the cemetery is hauntingly beautiful – endless rows of gravestones mark the resting place of veterans and military casualties from every war in our nation’s history. over 300,000 men + women are buried here, making it the second-largest national cemetery. during our visit we witnessed a horse + carriage funeral procession, an all too common occurance, with funerals taking place five days a week and totaling approximately 6,400 each year.
we were both overcome by sadness and grief – not only for ricky but for all those who lost their lives fighting and suffering in war. however heavy our hearts, the visit was a wonderful way to honor and remember those who have sacrificed for us. seeing my uncle’s grave was very emotional for me – i was filled with remorse, anger, and sadness, but i left with an incredible sense of pride.
to live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.
– thomas campbell