History of World War Two Told Through Letters
I just returned from a wonderful trip to Washington D.C. where I saw and met great people, visited various national monuments, and learned to navigate a new public transportation system (always a plus).
While I was there I visited Alex’s grave for the first time, since he is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Walking through the fields and fields of tomb stones I was overwhelmed by the quantity of graves. I felt more sadness gazing at the fields of strangers’ graves than I did when I actually found Alex among the plaques where ashes are inurned. I knew he had lived a long and happy life. I knew he would find it funny that he was buried at Arlington despite having been blacklisted by the government during his life. I knew that he didn’t die at war, far from home, in the prime of his life.
You might think that having your loved one buried in a place with more than 300,000 graves would make you feel like his or her importance is diminished. But that was not my experience. The beauty and vastness of the cemetery made me feel, instead, like Alex was part of something bigger than himself. In turn, that made me feel like part of something bigger than myself. Finding his stone among the others was a pilgrimage that I’m glad I made.
I wasn’t sure what to do when I found it. Should I smile in the picture with it? Should I have brought flowers? Said some sort of prayer? I wasn’t sure whether there would be a Star of David on his plaque since his political beliefs and atheism trumped his religious affiliations. There was, though, and I was surprised to recognize that I was glad. That symbol gave one more clue to his identity.
The peaceful and beautiful design of the cemetery really gave the area a feeling of respect. I could hear a funeral ceremony going on in the background and see graves that were recently engraved. I hate the idea that all of the people buried in the cemetery are there because they were part of a war.