Monday, May 30, 2011

Garden of Stone

I'm often amazed by what I find when I look at the world through the lens of my camera. I took a walk today, braving what was an exceedingly hot Memorial Day here in the D.C. area. All along I was wishing CamelBak made a camera bag so I might carry both my camera and a supply of cool water.

But that's not the point of this post. Opening your eyes is.

My walk took me to Arlington National Cemetery. I've been there before, often when it snowed and around Christmas, but I think this was the first time I went on Memorial Day.

Coming into the cemetery there are memorials to many of the U.S. military's units. In front of the memorial for the 101st Airborne Division, there were probably 20 or so floral arrangements, but this one caught my eye ...
.Maj. Richard Winters, who the world came to know through the book and mini-series Band of Brothers, died earlier this year on Jan. 2. He was 92 years old. In the mini-series, Winters quoted a fellow soldier, saying, "I cherish the memories of a question my grandson asked me the other day when he said, 'Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?' Grandpa said 'No… but I served in a company of heroes.' "

Indeed he did.

As I entered Arlington I bent around to the right. If you've never been to Arlington, the headstones are, for the most part, as uniform as anything you'll ever see. Aligned in staggered ranks, the Marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen and Coast Guardsmen are in formation as if they were awaiting inspection.

There are few things that make one of the stones stand out, but the pile of rocks atop the one below drew my attention. I saw it from behind and I wondered who it might be that would draw such attention. As soon as I read the name, it was easy to understand the respect he is paid ...


Medgar Evers served in the Army in France during World War II and was buried with full military honors after he was murdered, shot down in his driveway for believing that all men are indeed created equal.

My original intent was to try to get the quintessential Arlington picture - endless rows of white marble stones and fluttering flags. I don't think I quite succeeded, but that was mainly because I was in the more rolling part of the cemetery. This picture, however, came the closest ...


And, finally, the words on this balloon pretty much say it all ...

When I got home and got a closer look at this picture I saw that HMC John David Wilson was a Navy chief hospitalman serving with the Fleet Marine Force. He was a corpsman serving with the Marines. Navy corpsmen hold a special place in Marines' hearts because we know that no matter what, no matter how badly we're hit and how bad the enemy fire is, a corpsman will crawl through the very gates of Hell to pull a wounded Marine to safety.

Thanks to you and all your brothers and sisters for keeping us safe and free. Semper fi Chief.

5 comments:

HK said...

Very moving photos and context, thank you for sharing. What a great way to honor those who have served, by visiting Arlington.

suicide_blond said...

ive seen that "quintessential arl nat cem" photo lots of times.....but..i like yours better..isnt the idea that each of those stones is an individual... is what memorial day is really about? thank you...for taking the time to walk over ...and to learn their names...and thank you for sharing them with us
xoxoxo

FoggyDew said...

HK - I wasn't the only one, but the place is so big it seems any number of people could be paying their respects and you wouldn't be disturbed.

blond - a bunch of years ago I got a golden hour photo in one of the older sections of the cemetery. Through choice of film and lens and time of day the stones almost seemed to glow. I've been chasing that white whale ever since.

magnoliathoughts.com said...

medgar evers. wow. one of my heroes, with whom i share a birthday.

arlington is so moving. when i used to commute by car down 110, every so often, i'd catch a glimpse of the headstones from the road. every time, it takes my breath away.

FoggyDew said...

magnolia - I know what you mean. In the winter, when the leaves were off the trees, I used to be able to see the stones from the top of my old building.