Washington D.C. and Memorial Day Ruminations
Reflecting on the meaning of Memorial Day leads me to patriotic ideas and thoughts about the ultimate sacrifices made on the battlefields.
Washington, DC is a City of monuments, with many built to honor those lost in war. The memorials often leave an indelible impact and offer a longstanding reminder of the sacrifices made, whether it's your first time seeing them or twentieth or more.
For example, seeing the Vietnam Memorial and the thousands of names etched in the stark black marble is unforgettable. Especially so when you visit and see tearful family members and veterans searching and sketching the names of a loved one or fellow soldier.
Likewise, the Korean War Memorial and its sculptures of soldiers walking is a dramatic sight and takes on a different feel throughout the seasons. A rainy fall morning or gray and foggy winter afternoon may stop one in their tracks and prompt a moment of reflection.
Having lived and worked in Washington, DC, for several years, I was no stranger to Arlington Cemetary. I would typically drive by daily on my commute, walk the grounds regularly, and often found myself there whenever I had visitors in town. A few relatives are also buried amongst the thousands of gravesites.
It can be overwhelming yet moving and emotional to walk amongst the sea of white tombstones stretching as far as the eye can see.
Many visitors trek to view President John F. Kennedy's eternal flame for a good reason. However, I always found the simplicity of his brother Bobby's humble gravesite and memorial to be perhaps even more moving.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a historical monument dedicated to deceased U.S. service members whose remains have not been identified. The Army soldiers guard the tomb around the clock and stick to a meticulous, disciplined, and primarily silent yet stirring routine of twenty-one steps and twenty-one seconds.
The Changing of the Guard is also a solemn ceremony occurring every thirty minutes to two hours, depending on the season.
Beyond Washington, DC, as presented by the mainstream media and Hollywood, our National Memorials are worth visiting and experiencing at least once.
While the politicians in Congress may come and go, albeit not as quickly as we'd often like. The Memorials endure to remind us of the sacrifices made by regular, everyday Americans who deserve our long-lasting respect and gratitude.