Monday, March 19, 2012
Quantico National Cemetery
It was a beautiful day on Saturday so my husband and I went for a drive...I had never been to the Quantico National Cemetery before and wanted to visit. I did not expect the emotional impact it had on me...driving through the quiet, vast cemetery and seeing the thousands of graves of our fallen soldiers was powerful. Every grave represents a precious brother, father, son, or husband...or a sister, mother, daughter, or wife. It was so moving to see the family members visiting; I was deeply touched, yet felt intrusive and as if I was witnessing something too private for observing eyes. The hundreds and hundreds of graves you can see on the far hill in this photo say it all...this is the view as far as the eye can see as you drive through the cemetery, all 725 acres. I swallowed hard as we passed the newer grave stones, with fresh plots and 2011 dates on them. And the biggest surprise to me? So many female names on those grave stones...so many.
I'll admit that my eyes welled over when we drove by an old 70's Cadillac pulled off to the side of one of the sections and saw a stooped, elderly man with a walker slowly making his way through the World War II graves to visit a fallen hero. As we passed his car, I saw his license plate and it had a Purple Heart on it. Moments like that stop you in your tracks...any petty problems in your life seem minuscule when you realize what these soldiers have gone through, and when you think about the things they've faced that you can't begin to imagine, all in the name of protecting our freedoms here at home. When we circled back around a few minutes later and passed the elderly man again, he was standing at a grave carefully tying together a bouquet of flowers he had laying across the top of his walker. He looked frail, but I also saw such strength and honor in his presence at this sacred place, paying his respects to a fellow soldier. I was in awe. There are no words to express the gratitude I feel for our military...they truly are my heroes. And my biggest hero of all: My Dad, a retired Army Colonel who did two tours in Vietnam during the war, and thankfully made it home safely both times. For that I am forever grateful.