Remembering -- A Perspective from Arlington National Cemetery -- with Guest Blogger Kristen Hatcher

Copyright 2012 by Kristen Hatcher

Side by side, shadowed by white markers and red, white, and blue flags, they lay quiet under green grass in long, seemingly endless rows. 
The silence is loud, the stillness heavy. 

The President will be here soon to express the gratitude of a nation. It’s Memorial Day, and it just felt right to begin my day at Arlington National Cemetery remembering just how high a price was paid for my freedom and the freedom of the country I love so much. Living in our nation’s capital, I’ve grown accustomed to seeing monuments to presidents, generals, and others who shaped our country, but the sight of these white headstones stretching as far as I can see never ceases to move me.

 A desire to say thank you brought me to Arlington this morning. I did not expect to leave with a blessing of my own.  

When I arrived, a kind volunteer offered me two beautiful long stemmed roses. “Place one on a headstone, and take one with you as a memorial,” she said as I took the flowers. Because I am new to Washington and unsure about what is appropriate, I had considered bringing flowers, but ruled it out.

As I walked through the cemetery, it was difficult to comprehend that under each of the thousands of white headstones dotting the ground lay someone’s husband, wife, mother, father, sister, brother, or friend--there in the ground--because of me. Because they believed that the idea of freedom, of a government by, of, and for the people was worth defending, worth dying for. 

Copyright 2012 by Kristen Hatcher
Laying my rose on the headstone of a veteran of World War II and both the Vietnamese and Korean conflicts, I breathed a silent prayer of thanks for this brave man’s sacrifice for my freedom. The words of a song from the Civil war echoed in my ears, “As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free.” Their sacrifice reminded me of another innocent life that was given for my freedom centuries ago.  Our nation’s soldiers’ sacrifice freed my body and my mind; His sacrifice freed my heart and my soul. 

Abraham Lincoln, while dedicating Gettysburg National Cemetery, said, “The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did.”  From where I stand, a river separates our national cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, from our nation’s capital, in Washington, D.C.  The Peace Bridge connects the two. This bridge is only possible because of the men who surrendered their lives and were laid to rest here in Arlington. In fitting tribute, I acknowledge that I have peace with God because Jesus Christ surrendered his life long ago for me, because He loved me too much to leave me on the other side of the river without a bridge. 

This Memorial Day, we must remember the price that was paid for our right to shop, barbeque, spend time with our children, protest, live based on our religious beliefs, or choose not to believe at all.  It’s our right.We have the freedom to do so. But we must remember how much that freedom cost, and we must be thankful.

Copyright 2012 by Kristen Hatcher

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1 comment:

  1. Alicia H3:26 PM

    Well said, Kristen! You've done a wonderful job of capturing the enormity of the price paid by fallen service members and by the Lord Jesus. May others who enjoy freedom in America find true freedom in Christ.