THIS WAS RECEIVED BY THE FRONT OFFICE...I REMOVED THE NAMES
AND THOUGHT THAT IT WAS WORTH PASSING..."WE" ARE DIFFERENT AND
I APPRECIATE EACH OF YOU WHO HAVE GIVEN THIS DIGNITY AND "LOVE"
TO OUR FALLEN MARINES.
On Friday, 28 April my family, myself and my brother's family
visiting from Calif were visiting Arlington Cemetery.
We saw the usual sights; Lee's home, Kennedy gravesite and the
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
As we were preparing to depart, far off in a treeline I
caught the sight of Marine Dress Blues. Two platoons of
your Marines, accompanied by a contingent from the Drum &
Bugle Corps were practicing drill. I couldn't leave without
finding out what was going on so I stopped a Major who told
me that they were preparing to conduct a funeral service for
a WWII Marine veteran. Never one to pass up an opportunity
to observe Marines in action, I "modified" our sightseeing plans
for a few minutes so that we could observe the preparations,
including the Caisson Platoon from the 3d Infantry.
That decision to change our plans turned out to be one of
the best calls I ever made.
While we did not intrude on the actual funeral we were able
to observe the dignity and professionalism exhibited by all
the Marines as they formed up, greeted the family, transferred
the urn to the flag draped casket and slowly marched off into
the cloudy morning as the band struck up that familiar
old hymn "Onward Christian Soldiers". It was a truly moving
experience. One that reinforced my pride in our Corps
and our continuing commitment to care for our own.
As the procession moved off down the street I was asked
by a passerby and his family why the Marines were there.
I told him that they were burying a Marine from WWII.
He shook his head and said, "That's why you guys are who you
are. You care about each other. I'm an Air Force vet and
I'll bet we don't do much of anything at all."
Most meaningful to me was the reaction of one of my sons
who has grown up as a Marine kid but never demonstrated too
much interest. He sat off by himself on the grass watching
the whole event, never saying a word. As we left the Cemetery
that morning he sidled up to me and told me that Arlington was
the best place we had visited and that he hopes to be a Marine.
I thank your Marines for that.
That chance morning encounter in Arlington moved my entire
family, increased the bond between my boy and myself and provided
a reminder to me of how wonderful it is to be in our Corps.
Please accept my profoundest thanks for that unexpected opportunity.