We spent part of our day on Friday at Arlington National Cemetery. I posted on my Facebook page about how I was humbled by the experience, because until you’ve seen the rows and rows of headstones, it’s just a picture on TV or a movie. To see it in person, to allow that feel of “wow” sink in that these are the heroes, the true patriots of our country, it gives you chills.
One of the best parts of this experience was the Tomb of the Unknown Solider. This is the monument to represent those U.S. service members who have died without their remains being identified.
It’s guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, regardless of weather conditions. The picture I have posted about is during the changing of the guard. The pomp and circumstance, the attention to detail, and the way each soldier carried himself was tremendous to watch. More about the changing of the guard can be found here. Needless to say, it was another one of those places that had an impact on students and adults alike!
As we watched the changing of the guard, I noticed these guys working at the base of the monument. They were clipping branches off of trees, raking dead leaves and grass, preparing the grounds for the coming spring and summer months. As first, I just looked over them and back to the soldiers doing their jobs, but was struck by the moment.
We have this fantastic, awe inspiring monument to the past, and not 30 feet beyond, we have men, working towards the future, doing what needs to be done to be prepared. As I talked through this with my students, it gave that moment more clarity for me. We need to honor the past, those people who’ve died in battle, who’ve given service to our country, to our families, to our communities, and to our schools. They don’t have to be soldiers, they can be the teachers, parents, grandparents, important people our lives. What they’ve all done to make us who we are deserves to be celebrated.
We have to keep looking forward. We cannot allow ourselves to be stuck wishing for the “good old days” whenever those days may have been. We can’t lose ourselves wishing back something that won’t come back. We need to look forward to the future, prepare ourselves, because it’s coming, regardless of what we think or how hard we try to stop it! Our lives have to used to create a better world, a stronger world, a world that those who’ve gone before us would be proud to see.
I loved see these two pictures during my time at the cemetery. It moved me to think a little bit more about where I’m going, because I do feel stuck right now.
So, thank you to those who’ve served our country in whatever manner and have given their lives in that service. And thank you for those who continue to push us forward, regardless of how you do it!