I know a place so tranquil and beautiful that even after numerous visits it increases in importance and grandeur like no place I have ever been before. A place so hallowed and treasured all Americans should make a requisite, personal visit at some point in their lives to indelibly sear the image of this place in their mind.
Sitting high atop a picturesque prominence, overlooking the Potomac in Virginia, three nameless heroes watch over our nation’s capital. Spiritual sentinels forever at the ready, as they were when their country called them to serve in battle so many years ago. Dutifully surveying the meticulous, daily care of their 350,000 comrades in arms who lay amongst the well-manicured knolls that surround these American icons. A large white marble sarcophagus positioned atop the subterranean vaults identifies the final resting place of the three nameless combatants. The three are anonymous to all and national treasures, honored in their battle-caused obscurity by far too few.
A giant carillon nearby, a gift of thanks from the Netherlands, rings out on the hour thanking all those lying beneath simple, uniformly carved marble headstones for their sacrifices. During fall, the foliage of oranges, reds, and yellows of the deepest hues add to the beauty of the 600 plus acres of serene holiness.
Our country’s finest active duty servicemen, “The Old Guard,” continuously remind us of the sanctity and debt owed to these three with their constant vigil at the tomb. Day and night, regardless of the elements Mother Nature hurls their way, “The Old Guard” are there, ensuring honor and respect are paid by those who visit the Tomb of the Unknowns.
2014 is the 200th Anniversary year of our Star Spangled Banner, the 70th Anniversary year of D-Day, and the 150th Anniversary of Arlington National Cemetery. I urge you to unplug from cyberspace, the tabloids, and the reality TV shows which so often cloud our perception of why this country is so great. Visit a National Cemetery like Jefferson Barracks with your family, or stop a veteran to say thank you. Remember all those who, like the three unknowns, have given us so much through their ultimate sacrifice.
As President Lincoln said in the Gettysburg address, which is also inscribed above the stage of the Memorial Amphitheater adjacent to the Tomb,
“We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.”