Monday, April 19, 2010

Arlington National Cemetery to Visit Uncle Kermit

We decided to visit J's Uncle Kermit at Arlington National Cemetery Sunday afternoon.  The weather had warmed up a bit and the sun was playing hide and seek in the clouds.  The lighting was spectacular. 

This is a very somber place.  It is full of the graves of military men and women.  Some died in battle, some, like Uncle Kermit, came back and lived well past their service.  But one also can't help to notice that even in death, there is a separation of rank.  The picture above is mostly generals and admirals. 

Wives, and in this case a son of a military man, are also buried here.

All this green space attracts lots of birds.  This mockingbird rests close enough to capture.  There were lots of robins and some blue birds - a special treat for us westerners who don't generally see them. 

While this is mainly a resting place for the dead, it is also a park for the living.

This large amphitheater is connected to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Here's the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  This is an example of tradition winning out over modern efficiency.  The guards have a very ritualistic routine.  This website has some FAQ's about the Guard at the Tomb.  But keep reading into the comments, some of which challenge the information in the beginning.  Another, seemingly more official site is Tombguard.org which has similar FAQ's plus lots more history. 

Below is a brief video I took of the introduction to the changing of the guard.  My battery light started blinking so I stopped at this point.  Here's a longer video of the guard.

Here's a CBS news report that goes a bit behind the scenes of guard duty.  It does have a commercial at the beginning.

There's a lot of history here:  The Space Shuttle Columbia.  

We finally made it to J's Uncle's grave.  J went to the funeral in 1989.  The last time we were at Arlington together, Uncle Kermit was our tour guide. 

Gen. Channault and Gen. Stilwell were rivals.  J1 (our son) had read Channault's autobiography and I had read Stillwell and the American Experience in China.  When we visited Kunming, China - where both had served and rivaled - we had very different perspectives on which one was the good guy and which not. 

Off in the distance you can see the Washington Monument and the Capitol across the Potomac. 

Here's John F. Kennedy's grave site.  Nearby is Robert Kennedy's, a simple stone and a white cross.  Someone had left a red rose. 

And here lies Oliver Wendell Holmes

J1 read that there were over 300,000 people buried in Arlington - more than live in Anchorage.  It is important to honor our dead, but one must be careful to do so without glorifying war.  Fighting to protect one's country is clearly an honorable activity, but war itself is not, and using honor to induce men to unnecessary wars is despicable.

1 comment:

  1. "Fighting to protect one's country is clearly an honorable activity, but war itself is not, and using honor to induce men to unnecessary wars is despicable." I know you are not religious, Steve, but amen, amen.


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