While visiting out east, we made it a point to see some of the sites in Washington, DC. One that made a huge impression on me was the Arlington National Cemetery. For miles within my vision, there were white headstones of the same size and shape lined over the entire landscape. There were hundreds of thousands of remains of those who fought and gave their lives in the defense of the United States. I will carry that memory with me forever. My heart was filled with pride, honor, anger, sadness and a multitude of other emotions. These were men and women, just like us, who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could enjoy the freedoms of a democracy.
This weekend, the cemetery at Fort Snelling, in St. Paul, Minnesota, hundreds of volunteers are placing flags on graves of fallen soldiers. The custom had been forgotten or undone for a few years, but gratefully someone remembered this year.
We don’t need to be slaves to tradition, but when a simple ritual like this ceases to be, we begin to forget more important things. Have we, in our search to be self sufficient, thrown all the things of the past to the wind?
It makes me sad to think that we’ve forgotten. We don’t visit gravesites much anymore, because it’s too depressing. We may feel that the custom is outdated an unnecessary. We certainly aren’t making a difference to those who lay in those graves. Honoring them in such a solemn visit one day a year, is the least we can do to soothe our own hearts. By standing in front of a headstone – taking time to thank God for what this soldier died for – praying for the future of our nation and God’s guidance – we’re doing something we should really do every day – remembering.
Those who serve our country with honor and self sacrifice are worthy of our respect. Respect is a word we don’t see being used much anymore. It’s one of those “forgotten” words. We may not agree on what’s being done in politics today, but continuing to downplaying the positives, we’re leaving the door wide open for negativity.
Today we remember. Will we do so tomorrow?