Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations, that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of a free and undivided Republic. — John A. Logan
The call for help went out Wednesday morning.
“There’s a call for help from hallowed ground – the 28,000 graves of Hampton Roads’ national veterans cemetery. Last year’s Memorial Day – the first since the Army left nearby Fort Monroe – didn’t go so well at our little Arlington.
For the first time in anyone’s memory, there weren’t enough volunteers to carry out a traditional tribute: the placement of a small American flag at each grave marker for the holiday.”
The word spread, quickly, through the news media and all over social networks. And as dawn rose on Friday, that call was answered.
“Not on our watch.”
So many came out to honor those that gave the full measure of devotion to our great nation, that traffic resembled that you would normally see at a concert or sporting event. Community groups, soldiers, sailors, airmen, individuals young and old, quietly walked among the neat rows, arms full of flags, placing one in front of each grave marker. The message, powerful.
“We will not forget”
And so, this year, 28000 graves were honored in less than one hour. One hour in which the gratitude of Americans, too often unexpressed and often thought lost, was given voice anew. And the meaning of Memorial Day, restored.
“They fell, but o’er their glorious grave. Floats free the banner of the cause they died to save.” — Francis Marion Crawford
This year, the National Cemetery Administration of the US Department of Veterans Affairs will host 118 Memorial Day ceremonies. A listing of all national cemeteries holding a ceremony, to include the date and time, is on their website at http://www.cem.va.gov/cem/cems/2013_Memorial_Day_Ceremonies.asp.