Monday, November 12, 2012

A Sobering Visit to Arlington National Cemetary

This past summer I was able to visit Arlington National Cemetery.  It was a very sobering day.  I spent about four hours there.  Over 250,000 veterans  and other dignitaries have been buried there, and there are funeral services and burials performed there every day.
The most moving part of my whole Arlington experience was the lost Heroes Art Quilt created to honor American men and women who have lost their lives in the service of their country since September 11, 2001.  I wept for the lost dreams and hopes of these fallen heroes.  I had to leave the area because it was so touching.
Army Private First Class Daniel G. Dolan was honored from Utah, my home state. 
Printed around the picture of the service man and woman were descriptions of each fallen hero.  Each picture told a story of  these fallen heroes, a story about their hopes and dreams and passions.  Some of the things Daniel G. Dolan was remembered for was that "he was always there when you needed someone to talk to.  He loved serving his country.  He liked hockey, snowboarding, and football. " Each photo is a picture of the fallen hero as a child. The photos are faded and black and white to represent the life that is lost.  Each state is represented.
There is a bus that will take you around, but I walked.  Walking was a mistake as Arlington is huge and the weather is very hot and humid in the summer.   Fort Meyer is right next to Arlington, and from time to time you would see a bus from the fort bringing army personnel to honor their fallen servicemen and women at their funerals.
One of the more somber things to do is to watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of Unknown Soldier.  This is a very elaborate, exacting,  and solemn ceremony performed.  They change the guard at the tomb every half hour during the warmer months.  It is an extremely large honor to be able to be one of the guards at the tomb.  Members of this elite soldier group have been guarding the tomb since 1948.
 The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The outdoor Memorial Ampitheater is near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
It is a beautiful outdoor structure that has incredible detail.  I believe these are names of Union Generals.
Love this detail. 

A popular grave to visit is the grave of Audie Murphy.  It is right on the edge and easily accessible.  Audie Murphy was a famous and highly decorated World War II combat soldier and became a Hollywood movie star following the war.
There are veterans buried from all the wars.

There are monuments put in place to memorialize specific groups, such as this one for the Confederate Soldiers of the Civil War.  Troops from the battlefields were taken and buried at Arlington.  Some soldiers were buried and then later exhumed and reburied at Arlington
Almost no one misses the graves of the John and Jackie Kennedy where there is an eternal flame.


There is a wall with famous quotes by President Kennedy.
Right next to Arlington Cemetery is Arlington House, which before the civil war was Robert E. Lee and his wife Mary Anna's home for over thirty years. It is a beautiful home overlooking the Potomoc with a lot of 1,100 acres.   During the war, Arlington House was lost to the Lee's because Mary Anna was not able to pay her property taxes in person.  During the civil war, the Union having a great need of space to bury the dead, decided to bury the dead on the grounds of Arlington House.  The Lee's did not contest the lost of Arlington House after the war and never lived there again.

When I visited, the furniture in the rooms had been taken away to be refurbished.

There were lovely docents in period costumes who were happy to retell the  history of Arlington House.
The beautiful view of Washington D.C. from Arlington House.
 I am thankful for this wonderful country that we live in and I am thankful for the veterans who have put their lives on the line to defend our country.  I felt such a sense of sadness,  soberness, and reverence  while visiting Arlington National Cemetery.  I highly recommend a visit to Arlington Cemetery.
I will close this post with a picture of my handsome dad who served in the army in World War II for over five years and was wounded in a post D-Day launch in Northern France.  My parents met at a dance at the military base where he was recuperating.  He was wearing red pajamas!!
Unlike so many others, my dad made it out of combat, married and had 5 children and 24 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren and counting.   He passed away in 1995, and I love him and miss him. 

 Happy Veteran's Day!


Lynn said...

A very nice post Joni-Happy Veteran's Day!

Debbie said...

I loved the story about your dad meeting your mom in his pajamas. That is so sweet! (OK, maybe "sweet" isn't the right word for a soldier meeting his future bride, but you know what I mean.)

We visited Arlington for the first time this summer too. It was awe inspiring. My daughter went there yesterday for Veteran's Day. I can't imagine how special that must have been.

Debbie said...

BTW, I hope you get to join your husband in that neck of the woods soon. I haven't forgotten that you're separate right now. My father was in Georgia without us for a year when we moved. I remember how hard it was.

Bonnie said...

Such a sweet and tender post Joni. I love Arlington cemetary. My daughter was there last month for a service project. The young adults were there to identify church members buried there. It really is awe-inspiring and spiritual for me to watch the Marines who guard the Tomb of the Unknown.

Sue said...

Joni, I went to Arlington Cemetery in the summer when I was eleven years old. Even at that age, I was so impressed with the soldiers guarding the tomb of the unknown soldier. I remember that it was very hot and humid and the soldiers would have beads of sweet dripping from their nose, but would not divert their attention from their duties for even a second to wipe it off. I need to go there again! I remember John Kennedy's grave too, but missed a lot! BTW, your dad was a handsome fella.

Jacqueline said...

What a lovely tribute for Veteran's Day. I am sure I would bawl my eyes out there. I love how you captured the spirit and some of the beautiful details.
Love the picture of Dad.

Jacqueline~Cabin and Cottage said...

What a fitting and awesome thing to do for Veterans' Day. I would want to walk a bit too. I didn't know there was so much there.