Before I even type my first word, I already know that my SIL is thinking to herself, "What is it with her and going to a cemetery?" I know it seems morbid, but I have to think about what my FIL said yesterday as we drove through Arlington-- "It's a good thing our country is less than 250 years old. Imagine how many more graves would be here."
These men, these women-- these sacrifices they made. It gets me. Every time.
As I cross through the gates with guests who allow me to take them to Arlington, the first question is always, "What is the criteria to be allowed to be buried here?" By now, I should have it memorized- but I always have to google it.
My in-laws came in town on Tuesday for Husband's graduation. I asked if there was anything in particular they wanted to do. MIL said that she had a POW bracelet and wanted to know if he made it to the wall. She packed her $7 copper bracelet.
It's funny the things you remember. MIL said that she refused to take it off for her first wedding. "Ever the flower child, I was." She said her mother was fit to be tied. Can you pass blame? The bracelet lasted longer than the first marriage and she kept it all these years.
FIL, MIL, MB, LMC, and I all piled in the car to head to the Vietnam Memorial. One hard-core illegal u-turn and a near death experience, we were parked. It should be a sport to ride with me in DC. Later in the day, after I cut off an oxygen truck, I'd call my mom and put her speakerphone with the inlaws.
"Mama, don't worry-- I have only done three illegal u-turns today, cut off a handful of people and not used my blinker once. While MIL & FIL are still alive, they are starting to think my driving skills are questionable."
"Starting to?"FIL said.
"Lawd, Wife. Please take care not to kill them."
We wound down from our parking spot and headed to the Vietnam Memorial to search the book for Major Doby.
He was there. 14e, 116.
Down we go.
Typically, I enter the memorial from the Lincoln side, but this time, we entered from the East- which felt very backward to me. But, we were on the right side which worked out well. Fourteen panels away from the end and 116 rows down from the top-- there he was.
I wonder what went through her mind when she saw his name emblazoned on the cold, dark granite. This name that had been with her through youth, marriage, children, divorce, marriage, more children with no knowledge as to if he returned home, or stayed in the jungle. Did he live? Did he die?
Now we know.
The tale was not going to end there. After a snack on the backside of the Lincoln Memorial and resting for a little bit, we let FIL and LMC take a run and jump before we headed back to the car. I made the suggestion of heading over to Arlington to see if he was buried there. Everyone agreed and I had to drag myself away from the view.
If ever your travels take you to DC, take a moment and have a snack on the backside of the Lincoln Memorial. Read a book. Sit and admire. Fourth from the end is the best view of Robert E Lee's house. Let your feet dangle over, rest your back on the column and just smile-- knowing you are in the greatest city in the world and you are able to stop and take it all in.
Major Doby was, in fact, in Arlington. In less the two miles his name is carved in stone as many times. He was in section 60 on York Drive. Section 60 is much newer than the section where Ducat is buried. People leave more mementos, probably because it is a different generation as much as it their youth and vitality.
It surprised me, to some degree, to see how the graves were decorated and how much they were decorated. A fiancee left a rock and a note. Someone left a folded flag. There were stickers and necklaces and bottles of liquor, not to mention the rocks and the seashells. And there were notes. Lots and lots of notes.
As we walked around the graves, I asked my FIL, "Is it morbid of me to want to read those notes?"
"No, but you it would be nosy of you," He said and we both laughed.
And there was Herb and the men he went down with. FIL commented that was a good catch for the enemy-- two Lt. Colonels and a full bird. See the grave two over on the left? The one behind Edward Lushis-- Princess Samuels-- that's a folded flag in a ziploc bag with a note inside on top.
MIL asked FIL to take her picture next to "her man." It seemed like such a timeless moment from where I stood, watching her sit and look over her shoulder. She could have been at any moment in her life in that split second-- as could Major Doby when he went down.