Sacrifice is a hallmark of the service people of our country. Honor, courage, dedication and valor are traits that United States soldiers exhibit as they opt to go and protect our nation and provide that protection to others as well. The question in every heart as soldiers prepare to leave their families for deployment is whether they’ll get back safely, and in one piece. Sadly, some never do come home. They end up giving the ultimate sacrifice with their lives. Tim McGraw’s song, “If You’re Reading This,” shares the words of a soldier writing home who has been killed:
“If you’re reading this–
My mama’s sitting there–
Seems like I only got a one-way ticket over here.
I sure wish I could give you one more kiss,
And war was just a game we played when we were kids…
If you’re reading this,
Halfway around the world,
I won’t be there to see the birth of our little girl.
I hope she looks like you.
I hope she fights like me.
She stands up for the innocent and the weak.
I’m laying down my gun,
I’m hangin’ up my boots,
Tell dad I don’t feel sorry that I followed in his shoes…
So lay me down–
In that open field out on the edge of town.
And learn my soul is where my momma always prayed.
That it would go.
And if you’re reading this,
I’m already home.”
When you read or listen to these words, it’s hard not to pause for a moment and assess the fact that many have died to conserve the freedoms that we enjoy, leaving family and loved ones behind. Arlington National Cemetery is a place where those who have served our country can be buried, together with their families. This historic landmark is significant for many reasons, including the following.
The cemetery is on the grounds that formerly belonged to General Robert E. Lee, from the Civil War, and the first burial took place there in 1864.
There more than 400,000 graves in this cemetery, sprawling over 624 acres.
On Memorial Day, graves are decorated with small American flags placed in front of each headstone.
There are individuals buried there from every war that has taken place since America established its independence.
There are an average of 30 burials a day at the cemetery, and one has to meet certain requirements in order to qualify to be buried there.
Presidents of the United States are automatically allowed to be interred there, should they choose, since they served for a time as the commander in chief of the army. Incidentally, John F. Kennedy’s grave is a highly visited site in the cemetery.
With so many buried there, the cemetery is separated into 70 sections to help people find their way around and locate the graves they are searching for.
Arlington National Cemetery’s grounds are dedicated to honoring those that have served our country. And while there are many American heroes buried there, we know that others who have given the same sacrifice are buried all over the country in the places that they called home. We respect the commitment to country that these men and women exhibit.
The facts in this article about Arlington National Cemetery come from these sources: