Sunday, April 25, 2010

Arlington National Cemetary

The day after Easter, we were still hanging out in DC so we decided to take the kids to Arlington National Cemetery. Ben had never been there and when I took the kids during his deployment, they were very small. The flowers were all in bloom there so it was gorgeous. For some reason, I love the nice tidy rows of headstones in a military cemetery. It isn't that I love to think of all those lives cut short, but the sight seems to speak of a sacrifice that was made by them for something bigger than themselves. I am sure that not all of them enjoyed the rigid discipline of the military while alive, yet still were willing to conform in order to serve their country and now lie in rank and file just as they served in life. It is a place that commands a quiet reverence fitting to show respect to those who sacrificed for this country that I love so much. I think the kids even felt it.
Of course the highlight of an Arlington visit is watching the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The photo above shows the walkway we took on the way to watch that ceremony. Both times I have watched the changing of the guards ceremony, I was so impressed with the solemn respect the guards exhibit while tending to their duty. Their shoulders never slump and they never miss a step. They are carefully scrutinized by their commander in front of the public to ensure that their grooming and uniform are immaculate. I know the requirements of the Army to serve in that post are higher than those for other positions and the place has a reverent feel to it because they take their duty seriously.

One thing I wanted to do while we were in Arlington is take a picture of Zoa in front of the space shuttle Challenger memorial plaque. She is the exact age that I was when it blew up on national television. I remember very clearly sitting in my talented and gifted class in 5th grade watching the launch on tv and seeing the explosion. I am sure the shock I felt at such a young age was not as great as it would have been if I had been older but I remember feeling stunned and seeing the tears in my teacher's eyes. I felt so grown up and now my daughter is that same age. Time definitely flies.

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