What Arlington National Cemetery can teach our cowardly elected officials

In my lifetime, I have been to Washington, D.C. three times.  Whenever I am there, I make a point of visiting the memorials to our fallen men and women.  My dad fought in WWII and Korea, so those particular monuments are especially poignant for me.  Having lived during the Vietnam era, I find the Vietnam Wall to be crushing and spirit-lifting all within the same visit.

I myself am a Vietnam War–era veteran, but I did not serve in the Vietnam War.  There is a real distinction here.  I served in the Navy during the closing days of the Vietnam War. 

Each time in D.C., I always carve out a slice of time to visit Arlington National Cemetery.  As I walk those hallowed grounds, I find myself overwhelmed by the selfless sacrifice.  It is always serene there.  People walk slowly, quietly, and they speak in hushed tones to show their reverence.  That is why I go there: to show my respect to the men and women of our armed forces.  I know they can't hear or see me any longer, but I feel real comfort and a true sense of patriotism when I walk among the thousands of neatly aligned white markers.  Could you name me someone who is not stirred to the soul while watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier?  If you can find an American without a feeling or sense of pride during this event, then I will just go ahead and say it: he is not a patriot.

When trying to take in the full entirety of Arlington, for me, the cost in human sacrifice is staggering and has always been beyond my ability to fully comprehend.  I always, without exception, find myself humbled and grateful after each visit.

When in Arlington, so I do not find myself wandering with no purpose or sense of direction, I usually set out to find someone's individual marker.  One time, it was Audie Murphy, the most decorated combat soldier of WWII.  I knew that John Basilone was buried at Arlington, but I got directionally confused and was unable to find his marker (next visit for sure).

Once while visiting, the Arlington app was down, so there was no way to find anything.  So I visited the Information Center and asked a young man behind the counter if he could point me in the right direction for finding General Jimmy Doolittle's final resting place.  The young man was probably in his mid-twenties.  I remember his mentioning that Doolittle was an unusual name, and then he asked if Jimmy Doolittle was a relation of mine.  He was polite and respectful, so I answered him in kind.  I remarked that we were not related but that General Doolittle was a personal hero of mine.  I politely suggested that the young man read two books: Target Tokyo by James M. Scott and The Doolittle Raid by Carroll V. Glines.  I guaranteed that he would be mesmerized by the bravery of General Doolittle and the numerous bomber crews that flew with him. 

I want to make sure I don't minimize anyone laid to rest in the consecrated ground of Arlington; it is just that I don't personally know anyone buried there.  My father is buried at the National Cemetery in Bushnell, Florida.  So, when at Arlington, I seek out those who were household names when I was a boy.  All buried there are bigger than life to me.  It is nice that when I visit Arlington, I have names to associate with the magnitude of the place.         

Why all of this?  Because the men and women of Arlington, and all those represented by the other national cemeteries around the United States of America, stood for all of us when it really counted.  January 6 really counts, and I want our elected officials to stand for us.  It is really important; I want them to stand for America.  Since they are already in Washington, D.C., if they have never done so, I want them to visit Arlington National Cemetery before January 6.  I want them to try to comprehend and imagine the enormousness of the sacrifice; I want them to feel what I feel as an American when I walk among the fallen.

I really couldn't give a damn about Republican or Democrat; both have proved themselves wanting of character.  What do I want?  I want all of our elected leaders to be really honest, and if they see election fraud, I want them to stand and do the right thing for all Americans.  I see it so easily.  Why can't they?

Image: cgcolman via Pixabay, Pixabay License.

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