Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

Last year I wrote some thoughts on Memorial Day and the importance it should serve to all of us. I have two grandfathers that fought for this country in WWII and am always proud to mention when talking about them.

This past October, we took a family trip to Washington, D.C. I had been once before; however, Stephanie and Cameron had never been and it was somewhere Stephanie wanted to go. Since baby number two was going to be coming in a few months and we knew vacations for awhile were going to be focused on kids, this was our chance.DSCN0024

On our way to D.C., we stopped off in Shanksville, PA where the final plane from 9/11 went down. It was amazing to see how in the middle of nowhere it was, but completely worth visiting. Driving through their main street of town, it is decorated in flags and everything patriotic. It was quiet as we walked through the memorial. You cannot go within several hundred yards of where the plane went down; however, you can see it from DSCN0019the memorial and feel grateful for what the passengers stopped that horrible day.

We arrived in our nation’s capital later that day. The very next morning, we decided to go to Arlington National Cemetery as well as the Pentagon. I had not been to the Pentagon area when I visited a few years ago. However, we wanted to go now that they had opened a memorial for 9/11. When we arrived, there were many parking spots due to it being on a Sunday. So we parked and made DSCN0042our way to where we thought was the entrance to the memorial. To say the least, it was not. It was the actual entrance to the Pentagon. We turned around quickly from the armed guard station and saw where we were supposed to go. It was crazy to think we were standing on the ground that the plane had gone into that day. It was a very quiet, simple memorial.

Each of these two memorials had stones at the entrances listing all who died that day on the planes and on the ground from the impacts. It is hard to not get emotional reading these names. DSCN0059

Our last stop on this day was Arlington National Cemetery. We knew it was going to be the last stop as Cameron was nearing naptime and you do some major walking here. We walked throughout the Cemetery seeing the John F. Kennedy gravesite and the eternal flame. We also saw his brother, Robert F. Kennedy’s gravesite. We walked and walked. We went over to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We got there just in time to see the Changing of the Guard. Even though I had seen it once, it gets to you every time you see it. Cameron did very well here as I held him while the wife got some pictures and a better DSCN0083view.

We could tell Cameron was getting more and more tired; however, there was a few more things we wanted to see. We started making our way down the hill that led towards Section 60. If you do not know what that is, it is the area where those who have lost their DSCN0095lives in the recent conflicts are buried. This was tough. Stephanie took one picture, the one you see here. It is something that a camera could not capture. These are guys our age and younger who have perished for our freedom. As we walked down, we saw either a parent or a brother sprawled out over a grave sleeping. I cannot imagine the loss of a child or brother and to see his was emotional. Another family was around another grave talking to each other. I hope that through their loss, they understand how grateful people are for their lives.

This trip was full of a lot of sightseeing and a lot of walking. But I remember these things very much because of what they mean to our family. We are grateful for our servicemen and servicewomen who have served and our currently serving. We are trying to pass this on to our sons now. Sure, they are too young to comprehend what is going on. But, when one day they are taking their kids to these places, they can pass this on as well.

Thank you to all who have served and we remember the fallen on this Memorial Day.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Memories of a Friend

I found out this morning of the loss of Alex Moore. Alex is someone I had not talked to in several years. I had run into his mother a few years ago right about the time I was interviewing to come back to St. Louis. I have been thinking about the fun times we all had through high school and into our college years.

We attended the same church and went on many different trips together with our church. There was one trip that we always remind me of the type of person that Alex was.

I had just lost a very close friend of mine. I remember going to church that night in shock and just feeling horrible. We sat around and talked about our friend we had just lost. The funeral was set for later that week in Michigan, where his family lived. Alex knew I wanted to go. He knew my friend who passed but wanted to do more than go to the funeral. He offered to drive me to and from the funeral. He knew I was in no shape to drive to such a traumatic event for a 20 year old to experience. When we got there, he sat with myself and our friends’ family to all hours of the night talking about him. I will still remember us sitting at Steak ‘N Shake talking about him and laughing.

That single event encompasses Alex. He cared for others and wanted to help anyway he could during their time of trouble. He had such an infectious laugh too. He had the laugh that he laughed with his WHOLE body and it made others laugh.

I grieve for Alex’s friends and family today. I know he is upstairs with our Father not walking with Him, but running with Him. Probably challenging him to a run or bike ride. Our prayers are with you Rick, Jo, Erin and Adrienne.