I saw the event as I was scrolling through Facebook on late Friday night. I wasn't doing anything the next morning so I decided to attend. It was a free event and I had always wanted to lay the wreaths on the headstones and the cemetery so I signed up.
The military teaches you to always honor the fallen. In the very beginning of my military career, I, along with a group of other young trainees, was tasked with military funeral honors. It is one of the most presti of military traditions.
Attneding funerals and rendering a 21 Gun salute instilled a sense of pride in my heart. It also provided a different perspective and really taught me the true definition of HONOR.
Over the last 8 years - a very short period of time - I have seen, heard and done a myriad of things, but the sense of honor for the fallen has never escaped me. I have become very disgruntled and bitter in my service, to be very honest, but this is a call to duty that I will always answer.
On the morning of the event, I set out to drive to Arlington National Cemetery. It was raining, intermittentl but it Really didn’t dawn on me that it was raining. Honoring the fallen was liter the only thing on my mind.
I arrived to lines of people covered in parkas and huddled under umbrellas. I joined them with my heart full and hopeful. As I stood in the line, I watched people walk back from the front. I wanted to know what was going on, but I have learned to be patient in public. Waiting in line, I heard a man yell “There are no more wreaths!” as he walked in the direction of his vehicle.
Immediately I was pissed. This is what’s wrong with the world. I was riding that disgruntled and bitter wave to an island that I really didn’t want to be on. I wanted to return to my car and leave. I was so angry at the entire situation. I was angry with the organizers, angry with the Armed Forces - with everyone. I slowly realized that this is how I have been feeling for quite some time - angry. For so long, I had to tuck it in and keep a straight face; bite my tongue because I knew my voice didn't matter. Angry.
Here I am, selfishly angry, as I have arrived to honor fallen comrades; some of whom gave the ultimate sacrifice while in combat. I had to let it go. I had to rationalize this man's outburst. His goal had been met. He sought to make someone mad. He sought to make someone think twice about what they had set out to do on this day. I refused to allow this man to derail my thoughts any longer. Besides, he was long gone and the fury still raged within me - unbeknownst to him. Shame on it.
I began to ask questions of those around me. I wanted to engage in their "why" for being in a cemetery on a rainy Saturday morning. I began to take it all in, one breath at a time. I slapped a few people around with my umbrella, sadly, and used it as a conversation piece.
I had a mission. I set out to complete my mission, twice and three times over. I think I laid about 100 wreaths in the cemetery that morning. As I was leaving, there were hundreds more coming into the gate. It was beautiful to see so many people show up for this event. Some had family member buried there. Some had friends. Some, like me, had no one and were just there to support. It was brought to my attention that many of the gravesites would only be visited once this year, by me. That was some parts heartbreaking for me to realize.
I took special care and extra effort when laying the wreaths. I read each headstone and acknowledged them for their service as it was posted. I also acknowledged all of the officers who were resting there as well. I met women and children and thanked them all for their due diligence in honoring the fallen.
Overall, it was a great experience and I will definitely be returning on January 20, 2019 for the removal and clean up there as well.
For more information on this event and future events, head on over to Wreaths Across America.
Love & Light, Fam!