T W E N T Y - S I X - L E T T E R S
I appreciate the dignity, ritual, and respect shown at Arlington National Cemetery. The orderly simple, white headstones. The religious affiliation, name, rank, dates of living and serving while on this earth. And there is something gripping about the thousands upon thousands of little flags, which by themselves, would seem insignificant. It's when they all are together that their impact is felt.
Arlington is a beautiful, quiet and eery place. Wars fought before our grandparents were even alive. Current wars. If you look at the young ages of some of these folks, men and women, your heart aches. But even the others, too.
When you hear 'soldier' certain images and roles come to your mind. They are doing a job. But these images should also appear... husband, wife, mother, father, daughter, son, boyfriend, girlfriend, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, friend, mentor, grandmother, grandfather, uncle, aunt, neighbor, co-worker, human being. If one of them is lost or hurt, it has a ripple effect impacting many, many others as well.
I'll be the first to admit I don't understand the workings of the military. I wish we never had to go to war in the first place, but I have always had a respect for the complex and ridiculously dangerous work they do AND that they have to be separated from their 'normal' life for months on end. This not only impacts them, but the people who were used to having them here.
That respect of mine deepened this year as my future brother-in-law got deployed to Iraq with the Air Force. Mason and Elizabeth will be getting married in June 2010. And in an email update he sent us all, I signed off my reply, "have fun, do a good job, be safe." It is dangerous, but if they weren't doing what they are doing, there's a pretty good chance we wouldn't be doing what we are doing.
For those who have had their lives altered or who have lost their life, thank you. Thank you beyond words. And while your families and friends may struggle to come to this place in their hearts, I do, sincerely, hope you are resting
PHOTO ©2009 Wendy Hudgins