Arlington National Cemetery


I have been sitting at the computer, staring at the keyboard for the past 30 minutes. Because I am pretty sure that words could never describe what I felt, sitting there watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Somehow, between the tolling of the clock bell chiming the hour and the click of the soldiers shoes as he paced before the tomb, a gratitude for all those serving our country welled so deep within me I started tearing up. Because of my water-proof mascara and large sunglasses, no one noticed, but after the ceremony ended and I started talking with my cousins, I realized that I was not the only one feeling a surge of patriotism.

While we were waiting for the ceremony to begin, we were sitting silently on the steps surrounding the tomb. And about 10 feet away from us, stood some soldiers. And, because of the ceremony, I couldn’t say anything to them. And I have never felt guiltier in all my life.

As we walked back down the hill towards the gravesite of President Kennedy, my cousin whispered to me how guilty she felt for not thanking the soldiers. Same as me. Typical Ferguson.

As soon as we got the chance, we thanked every soldier we could.

Words can’t describe what went through my head as I shook the hands of men who were willing to die so I can live a normal live free from fear and threat. When I looked them in the eye, thanked them, and shook their hand, I again became thankful for my waterproof mascara and large, dark sunglasses.

Because at that one moment, I wasn’t standing in the middle of Arlington National Cemetery thanking soldiers that I had never met alongside my cousins. But those men, only a few years older than myself, somehow became the guys that I know that are in JROTC and set on entering the armed forces.

And that’s what got to me. I was thinking about the guys that I care about that walk around school in uniform every Thursday or Friday. I was thinking about my friends that were willing to die for America. And then, I remembered where I was standing.

I was surrounded by the Tomb Stones of thousands of people who had done just that. Of course, there were several veterans buried there as well, but actually knowing people that could be buried there if they wanted . . . My vision blurred and my voice cracked.

Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same. President Ronald Reagan. 1961

I am so proud of all the guys that I know that are willing to stand up for America. Because if it wasn’t for them, freedom would become extinct within one generation. They are the bravest, strongest, greatest guys that I know. I only wist that they knew that.

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