Arlington National Cemetery is a place where we can go and honor our fallen soldiers on any given day. We marvel at the rows of white markers and the skill with which they were designed. Pictures take our breath away and fill us with a sense of pride in our country and a sense of solemness at the price we pay to keep it. At Arlington, we are reminded that being an American is hard work.
On this visit, I witnessed for the first time teams of men maintaining the markers. Time and weather cause the grounds to shift on the hills, and headstones inevitably list to one side or another. Teams work to preserve the integrity of the sharp lines we love to see in the headstones. Without the aid of machinery (it would disturb the profound silence that exists there), using shovels and string and the simplest of tools, men work tirelessly to return the markers to their upright positions. When we walked past, the team disappeared behind a clump of trees – an obvious effort to keep from disturbing our experience there; however, I sneaked back and caught this man returning to work before he caught sight of my lens. I don’t know why I think of these people so often – working quietly, respectfully, and with great pride in their work. But I do think of them. And I think of the heroes I walked among- those who fought for causes I truly believe in and those who fought for causes I would spend my entire life rallying against. They are all American heroes fighting and dying for the America they loved. And that is why when I visit Washington D.C., I spend time at Arlington National Cemetery. I come away with a larger sense of what this country is about, what it stands for. I come away feeling like whatever political winds that blow causing me to list one direction or another disappear, and I walk away feeling renewed and more upright as an American after spending time there.
To all of our heroes who serve and have served our country,
to the families who sacrifice right along side them,
I thank you –
and today and every day,
I honor you.