Today is Memorial Day. Originally conceived to honor fallen Union soldiers after the Civil War, the holiday now honors all members of the U.S. Armed Forces who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.
In 2005 we went to France. Paris was the main goal as we had wanted to experience it together for a long time, but we decided to begin our trip in Normandy. I’m so glad we did.
Seeing the tiny ribbon that is Omaha Beach and the lovingly cared-for graves of 9,387 soldiers that are buried there was a deeply moving experience. We were both moved to tears, and talk about that trip every Memorial Day. I’ve experienced the same complex emotions while visiting our National Cemetery at Arlington, Virginia. There, almost all of the graves are identical. A military cook may be found buried next to a Colonel.
I am neither celebrating nor criticizing war. It is a terrible thing, I’m certain the 400,000 individuals buried at Arlington would attest to that. Every American should be required to visit Arlington. Perhaps it might give us some perspective when we plan the activities of our holiday celebrations, and what we might pause to consider during them.
And to those that have served, thank you.