Sunday, August 20, 2006

Arlington Cemetery - A Tribute

This past Christmas a member of a group from my high school (about 60-70 of us communicate from all over the world regularly) told the story of Arlington Cemetery and the Christmas activities there.

That got one of my high school friends busy reliving his recollection of Arlington and his visit to it on behalf of a friend.

Terry told the tale, and here it is......And may you all find it as moving as have I! And a big thank you to my friend Terry for his permission to print this....

"Arlington cemetery is a beautiful and sacred place!!! You feel it as you pass through it's gates. Even with air traffic at nearby Reagan International, it is eerily quiet and peaceful. It is a very special place for me. I once lived in Arlington and visited the cemetery many times, usually with a friend and co-worker named "Jay". I witnessed a number of funerals in this hallowed place, some of which had few or no attending family members. That was sad to see but it was explained to me that many had no living relatives or couldn't afford the trip. I knew that Jay was sometimes in pain but he never talked about it, nor complained. I don't remember his ever missing a day of work unless attending meetings at our headquarters in Bethesda. It was then obvious when Jay missed work several days. One of our company's VP's let us know that Jay wouldn't be in for a few more days. A few thought that Jay may have been on vacation even though he hadn't told us of any plans. Approximately a week later we learned that Jay had died of cancer. Very few in the company knew that he had it so his death was a real shock! I then had the "privilege" of attending his funeral. It then struck me that he once told me that I would someday participate in a funeral procession at his beloved Arlington cemetery. Preceding the funeral I learned from his family that Jay was a retired WW2 Navy Captain and commanded a destroyer in the Pacific theatre. My father also served in the Pacific. Jay was like my dad in many ways and also would not talk about the war. He would only say that he served on a Navy destroyer during WW2. Jay was a rare and memorable person. A born leader and an inspiration to many people in the company. I'll never forget him and still try to follow some of the principles learned from him. Jay's funeral service was for his remaining family only. His wife had died a number of years before. I'll never forget waiting at the cemetery's entrance with other co-workers for Jay and his family and then witnessing the slow and respectful transfer of his body to the horse drawn caisson. We then followed the procession which included the symbolic riderless horse; drummer and military band to the grave site. The band played "Onward Christian Soldiers" as we marched to his resting spot. As I write this I can still hear the gun salute and the playing of "Taps" echoing throughout the cemetery. There wasn't a dry eye anywhere, nor could a single visitors voice be heard until we had left the cemetery. Arlington cemetery is the resting place of thousands of people like him who gave either years of time, or their lives because they believed in, and loved this country. They did it willingly for their families and future generations. As Jay once told me, none of the inturred ever intended to become or knew they would be called heroic. How many of you have visited Arlington cemetery? This a "must see "if you visit the DC area. My youngest son was one several chaperones for a number of inner city high school students trip to Wash. DC this summer. The teachers and school Seattle School Board members preparing the agenda didn't feel that a trip to Arlington cemetery was worthwhile. The Seattle School Board thought that a tour of the White House was of more value than a tour of the Capitol or Supreme Court Building. They did however feel it was important for the group to visit Mt. Vernon and pointed out that George Washington had slaves. What lunacy!!! After all, they have to keep the hope for reparations alive. We as a nation do not have the same feelings today. We are being overrun by immigrants who come here to remake this country into something it was never intended by our founding fathers. Today's "leaders" are more concerned about gathering votes from the illegal immigrants; special interest groups and then we have the judges who have taken it upon themselves to weave the Constitution to their own lack of religious values and likings. The last time I read through the original Constitution, it did not mention abortion or homosexual rights. I also do not remember any provision that we have to provide prayer rooms in our schools for Muslims. I do recall however recall numerous references to GOD in the Constitution. Why are we as a nation now allowing religion our founders religion to be struck down. Our politicians and judges apparently have not looked above the entrance of the Supreme Court? I think we sorely need a display of the Ten Commandments in every courthouse throughout the entire country. This country needs more people like Jay and his Arlington neighbors. They earned the right to rest in this sacred place of honor. THERE WILL BE HELL TO PAY IF THE ACLU TRIES TO TAKE THOSE CROSSES DOWN!!!"

Thanks again Terry.....And each and every one of you may feel free to pass this on...

Maybe your kids schools should make Arlington, and its story, a priority on a D.C. visit!