Monday, May 17, 2010

Paying Respect

Occasionally there comes a time in one's life when words are just not needed.

Arlington Cemetery in Washington D.C. is one such place. It is an emotional place, filled with history, broken dreams, sacrifices, what ifs, and many tears. My first visit to Arlington was with my students about 8 years ago and on each trip I learn and experience something new. It is a place were one's heart swells with love, pride, and respect. Arlington is a place that every American should visit least once in their life time.

The views just command attention and respect. Words just don't do it justice.

As our group made its way around the cemetery, moving up to the Lee Mansion, our tour guide provide a wealth of information.

This is the view at the top of the hill in front of Robert Lee's Mansion. The stone monument here is of Pierre L'Enfant, the French man who designed the layout for Washington D.C. That is the Washington Monument in the far distance.

This is the walk that leads up to the Lee mansion following the restored garden area.

This would be me, bundled in 2 sweatshirts because it was freezing cold up there. The marble pillars at the front entrance of the mansion are just spectacular. The inside of the house is under renovations as they are adding fire and climate control devices and cleaning/restoring the furniture and pictures.

When Robert E. Lee left his mansion to command Southern troops during the Civil War, Northern troops went in and occupied the mansion. As the story goes, Northern troops and officiers wanted to ensure that Lee would not return to his home so they started burying the Northern soldiers who died in the war around the grounds of the house. These headstones exactually create a border around the gardens of the mansion. These 2 date back to 1865.

We had the opportunity to see these officiers do a military cannon saluate commenorating, I believe, the President of El Salvador. The men let the students get pictures with them once the ceremony was completed. It was quite awesome!

There are over 340,000 people buried at Arlington. It is just so interesting and touching to walk along the paths and read the inscriptions on the headstones. One could spend all day there just reading. One of the the last things the students see is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Changing of the Guard. On this day the students were able to see a wreath laying ceremony also.

At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier there is absolutely no talking. There is complete silence. It is one of the most emotional experiences a person can witness. It is here that all the sacrifices men and women have made for America come full circle. There is no need to ask for respect. They earned it. Plan and simple. And for their sacrifices I am truly grateful.

5 comments:

Shula said...

I'm glad you had a good day it does look like an interesting place to go. I watched the Kevin Bacon film 'Taking Chance' today. A true story based on a marine colonel who volunteered for "escort duty" to return a body to it's home. Wonderful, tear promoting film and one I believe people should watch.

Christine said...

It is an awesome, goosebump raising experience to visit there. I've not had an official tour, I would love to go back and do that some day.

kristi said...

Shula,
thank you for stopping by! That is a great movie! I love American history and seeing the kids learn is so rewarding:)

Christine,
The tour company that I use is run by retired school teachers and they do a great job talking to the kids. A few times we have "picked up" a few adults in the group who follow us while listening to the tour guide:) If you lived closer, you could tag along with us next year!

Deb said...

What a great experience for your students.
I have never had the chance to visit Arlington or Washington, D.C. for that matter. We are hoping to take a family trip soon -I've always wanted to visit the Wall - not sure I could handle it emotionally but would like to try.

Thanks for sharing your trip.

jen said...

Great pictures! I hope one day to be able to take the kids there and promise to appreciate it more as an adult then I did as a teenager.