I think it’s safe to say that days like today only happen once in a lifetime.
We were invited by my aunt and uncle to attend the wreath laying at Arlington National Cemetery in remembrance of Memorial Day and it was an amazing experience. Not many people have the opportunity in their lifetime to do something like this, so it was an honor.
We made our way from Leesburg to Arlington early this morning and were shuttled to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from Ft. Myer. When we were dropped off, the heat of the day really started blistering off of the pavement, and it was intense. The heat index was 100 degrees today and I kid you not, I have never been hotter in my life. By the time we walked the 200 yards to our seats, I think all of us were soaking wet from the sweat. I was in awe of the soldiers milling around in their wool uniforms seemingly unaware of the heat. I felt like such a wimp.
The thing about the wreath laying is that it’s divided into two different parts. The first part is that the President arrives at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and does the ceremonial laying of the wreath, and the second part is that he goes into the ampitheater and delivers a speech to a crowd that is already gathered. We were in the ampitheater, so we didn’t expect to see the actual wreath laying which was kind of a bummer.
However, shortly before President Obama arrived, my aunt and uncle asked us if we wanted to see the wreath laying and we quickly made our way to the back side of the ampitheater overlooking the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Talk about an amazing view. We were smack dab in the middle with a perfect vantage point.
Once President Obama reached the Memorial Bridge, the 21 gun salute began. It was timed perfectly so that on the 21st shot, he would be making his way down the path to the ceremony.
The actual ceremony was very beautiful and full of the tradition (National Anthem, moment of silence, Taps) that makes these types of occasions so moving.
After the ceremony was over, we headed back to our seats for the speech. Everything that the speakers had to say was thoughtful and meaningful, and it really made me appreciate what Memorial Day really stands for. I think we get so caught up in it being a 3-day weekend that we lose sight of it’s meaning, and it just hit me so much today that this day is incredibly important. We can’t forget the people who have and do put their lives on the line for us every day in this country. It’s the most selfless act a person can do; risking their life for another, and it’s something we shouldn’t take for granted.
After everything concluded, we made our way back to the shuttle and then headed to Ft. McNair in DC to hang out at my aunt and uncles new house! My uncle is being stationed there for the next two years and they just moved in last week so it was a chance for us to see their new quarters. The house is amazing. It’s over 100 years old and sits on the Potomac with a spectacular view.
After lunch, the guys and I sat in the shade and fished. I only lasted about 20 minutes before my patience ran out, but I had a great time watching my dad, Chris, and uncle Mike do their best at catching the Potomac’s finest. Aunt Brenda even joined in on the action!
I think that today was one of those days where we really spent the day as it was intended. It was a day of remembrance, a day of reflection, and a day of appreciation. It was a complete honor to attend such a beautiful ceremony and I am so grateful to have had this day in my lifetime.