Arlington Hope

May 21st, 2009

arlingtonThis one, like so many others that pull on the memories that I’ve sought so diligently to hide, push down and gloss over, is especially hard for me to write.

For those of you that have served, those of you who are family of service members, and especially those who have lost a loved one who has served in the military, Arlington National Cemetery is hallowed ground. Heck, it should be for all Americans. But sadly, for some, well, it’s just another piece of ground.

Not to me it’s not.

I stood on the the small rise and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was my first time there, and my breath escaped me. I didn’t even care as I beheld the scenery before me. I looked out over the fields of white tombstones and crosses perfectly lined up and flowing with the contour of the land and I was breathless. I couldn’t count the numbers. It was just too many. And so,….I cried.

Friends, it’s with no shame at all that I tell you that I walked out amongst those tombstones and wept with the grief that fell short only to those whose loves laid below my feet. I read the names and my tears fell on their memories. I touched their headstones and walked amongst the heroes till grief and sadness won out and I fell to my knees. I sought for prayer and found none. Sadness and loss seemed to be oozing from me and coming from that deep place within where only the intensest of emotions dare tread. I couldn’t believe I was feeling all I felt.

There I knelt, sobbing like so many of my brothers and sisters before me, for I too had lost all that now lays in the fields of Arlington National Cemetery. These brave men and women command my sorrow, my time, my heart, my commitment, my honor, my respect. And I gladly give them all I can. They died so I can live and I spent hours walking through those fields thanking them and paying my respects.

If you have been there, I’m sure you will agree that it’s a humbling, intense experience. But it’s not mortality that impacts you. No, it’s the cost. Being there, you have a very real sense of the cost that freedom has required and the immense price we as Americans have paid to obtain it. In a twisted sort of clinical analysis, it’s like looking at a balance sheet, seeing a great dept paid, and the means of that payment staring you right in the face. Except the fields seem to go on forever.

Every nation has their Arlington and we must respect them all. Agree or disagree with the cause, it’s your choice. But do not ever fail to respect the sacrifice they paid, giving their life for what they believed in. They believed in a cause. The cause of Freedom. Sure some doubted from time to time. Some may never have understood what exactly they were fighting for. But all have died in order that one thing was carried on. That thing, is Hope. They Hoped that by fighting, sacrificing, leading, following, suffering, and ultimately dying if necessary, they would be passing on the hope of freedom, a better life, justice, righteousness, sovereignty, unity, and a whole host of other ideals that we take for granted today. You see,…they accomplished their mission. We are free today because of the sacrifice that all those men and women made. They paid the price many of us are unwilling to pay. They are the real heroes of this Nation.

This Memorial Day, I encourage you to take the time to remember the price so many paid. Think of the freedoms you enjoy on a daily basis. Plan a trip to Arlington National Cemetery. I dare say that you owe it to them and yourself. You will experience something that cannot be described with words alone.

Take the time to thank someone who fought for your freedom.

It costs you nothing.

For some, it cost them everything. And as the saying goes: All gave some, Some gave all.

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