I’m traveling for work this week, and meetings have landed me in Washington, DC until early Saturday morning. I’ve only been to DC as an adult one other time. Last year, Mars and I came up here and hit the tourist attractions hard. We walked pretty much non-stop for eight hours one day with only a twenty-minute lunch break to eat a hot dog from a vendor on the Mall. We were good travel companions and really maximized our two and a half days that we had here. Because the Universe is a funny thing, I am staying in the exact same hotel that we stayed at last year. As I walked around the hotel and neighboring area today, I was flooded with happy memories of us, and it made me mourn the us that is no longer. It’s funny how healing heartbreaks can sneak up on you like that. But, I won’t dwell on that anymore. I’ve got two days packed with work ahead of me so I don’t have time to wax nostalgic about a past trip with my former love.
One of the places that was on my list of things to see was Arlington National Cemetery and we did not get to it last time. So today, my flight got into town a little early, and I had some down time. I checked into my room and then set out for the metro. It was warm, but I was pretty smug that I could handle the heat being from the South and all. I was ill-equipped though. I didn’t realize how large the Cemetery is. I also had on a black t-shirt and jeans. I was roasting by the time I climbed the first hill. I climbed this hill at a very clipped pace because I (mistakenly) thought it was the location of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and I was trying to make it in time for the changing of the guard. It was not and I was not in time. I was huffing and puffing and sweating profusely. Some kind fellow-tourist offered to take my picture. I told him that I didn’t want to scare anyone with the picture since I was so sweaty and my hair was turning into a sweat-soaked mess. He was persistent though so here is the photo.
I quickly found my bearings and found the correct location. As soon as I approached the tomb, I no longer worried about the sweat dripping freely down my back, or the blisters forming on my chocoed feet. I got to witness a memorial ceremony for the Cleveland Air Guard. Taps was performed, and I cried. What an incredibly emotional and inspiring place. I have always had such respect and gratitude for those men and women who serve our country, but what a poignant reminder of sacrifice that some heroes made. The tomb reads: “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God” and it touched me being in that place as the guard changed and the wind softly blew. Thank you to all our nation’s service men and women. As I approached the cemetery I saw that the flag flew at half-mast, and I remembered anew the horrific events that unfolded in Chattanooga, TN – a place I called home for four years. I definitely felt many emotions in Arlington, VA today, but I’m very glad I went.