Friday, June 23, 2006

We Will Never Forget - Arlington National Cemetery

I received an e-mail this morning from my friend, Michael Pace. He was passing along a piece, the origin of which is unclear to me, highlighting facts about The Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. I found an on-line version of the piece on a Website authored by Wink Martindale. You can access the link below:

Re-reading these moving and inspiring facts about Arlington National Cemetery brought me back to my experience of traveling to Virginia last fall to bid farewell to Dennis Hay, who was being laid to rest there. I was prompted to read once again the words that I wrote in October reflecting on my experience of joining with Dennis’ family and friends in saying good-bye to this vibrant young man who gave his life in Iraq. It occurred to me that there may be a significant number of current readers of The White Rhino Report that did not see that original posting about Dennis, so I offer below the link to that article:

During this recent Memorial Day weekend, services of remembrance were held at Ft. Carson, Colorado for those from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment who died during Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq. Dennis Hay was among those remembered during those ceremonies.

In the course of thinking about Dennis today, I came across an article that ran in the Washington Post the day after Dennis was buried at Arlington. The article includes interviews with friends of Dennis who commented about his strong faith and his reasons for choosing to return to Iraq.

Over the course of the past few months, a dedicated group of students at my alma mater, Governor Dummer Academy in Byfield, Massachusetts, raised money by selling T-shirts. They wanted to use the money to support in some way our soldiers and their families. I encouraged them to consider a gift to the family of a fallen soldier, and a check was recently mailed that will help to make life a little brighter for the two small children that were left fatherless when Dennis Hay died in combat.

I was particularly moved by the students’ gesture because it comes at a time when it is typical for a grieving family to begin to experience a falling off in support. In my lifetime, I have been involved with many situations of bereavement. Oftentimes, in the first few days and weeks after a death, extended family, friends and the community rally around the loved ones – providing emotional support, food, financial support, visits, cards. As the weeks turn into months, one by one, many of the supporters return to “normal” life and tend to forget the ongoing needs for support. The gift by the GDA students to the Hay family is a timely reminder that for those of us who know families who have lost a loved one – in combat or through less publicized tragedy – we need to be as vigilant and tireless as the honor guards at the Tomb of the Unknowns in lending our encouragement and support.

Who do you know that could use from you today a visit, phone call, e-mail, or gift as a concrete expression of ongoing love and support?


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