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.
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 the 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 our 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.
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 view.
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 lives 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.