Sunday, May 30, 2010

Arlington National Cemetery . . .

On this Memorial Day Weekend, take some time to reflect on the true meaning of this holiday - to remember those who fought for the our freedom and who made the ultimate sacrifice for their countries.

Arlington National Cemetery is located just outside Washington, D.C. in Arlington County, Virginia. On over 600 acres, it is the final resting place for veterans and military casualties from the Civil War to the Iraq/Afghanistan conflict which is still ongoing.  It is situated on land that was once owned by General
Robert E. Lee's wife, Mary Anna, who was a descendant of Martha Washington.

Visiting the cemetery is an interesting and emotional experience.  We visited on a beautiful Spring day - the flowers and trees were in full bloom.  My sons couldn't understand why we were going to visit a cemetery, but soon learned that this was something so much larger and significant.  One of our first destinations was the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a monument dedicated to American servicemen who have died without their remains being identified.  We witnessed the changing of the guards - a solemn ceremony that is carried out every half hour during daylight in the summer, and every hour during daylight in the winter and every two hours at night, regardless of weather conditions.  A guard has been on duty at the site continuously, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, since July 2, 1937.

Arlington is the burial place of many notable historic figures, such as President John F. Kennedy, along with two of his brothers, Senator Robert Kennedy and Senator Edward M. Kennedy; President William Howard Taft; Audie Murphy, the most decorated member in the history of U.S. Military; boxing champion Joe Louis, and famous bandleader Glenn Miller who disappeared over the English Channel in 1944.  Miller's body was never found, but he has a memorial headstone that was placed in 1992.

While you are enjoying this beautiful weekend, take some time to remember those who have gone before us.  This beautiful poem, "Memorial Day", was written by noted poet Joyce Kilmer, who was killed in action in World War I:

The bugle echoes shrill and sweet,
But not of war it sings to-day.
The road is rhythmic with the feet
Of men-at-arms who come to pray.
The roses blossom white and red
On tombs where weary soldiers lie;
Flags wave above the honored dead
And martial music cleaves the sky.
Above their wreath-strewn graves we kneel,
They kept the faith and fought the fight.

Through flying lead and crimson steel
They plunged for Freedom and the Right.
May we, their grateful children, learn
Their strength, who lie beneath the sod,
Who went through fire and death to earn
At last the accolade of God.
In shining rank on rank arrayed
They march, the legions of the Lord;
He is their Captain unafraid,
The Prince of Peace . . . Who brought a sword

1 comment:

Lizzie said...

What a lovely post and the pictures really make the impact of it more striking.