November 11, 2010
Five months ago, 157 days back, June 7th Alex and I left Chesapeake Virginia to embark on an historic journey. The first stop Dover Air Force Base, where our sons and daughters are first brought home. Today, sans Alex, I arrive at the completion of this journey in Arlington National Cemetery for the concluding ceremony. I will post the accomplishments and statistics at some time later, may even be included in a book, but for now here is my best account of the day.
Veteran’s Day an extremely busy day at Arlington. A day to reflect on the those who have honorably served. Those who made it home and the sacrifice of so many who didn’t. A final resting place and a fitting background for our final tribute. My son like so many is buried here and those visiting this special place today were in the thousands. I thought that with an afternoon ceremony we would have beat the early crowds but that was not the case. Bumper to bumper traffic all the way in. If it wasn’t for my friend Neil, on his motorcycle blocking traffic, we may not have made it in time.
An absolutely gorgeous day, 65 and full sun. Arriving at section 60 was incredibly humbling, several hundred people were there in support of my arrival. Friends and family I hadn’t seen in months and supporters I had visited with across the nation. At 2pm we began to unofficially place 12,000 flags on the graves. Two flags on each, our steadfast US Flag and the flag that recognizes our fallen, the Honor and Remember Flag. It was an amazing site to see hundreds of people placing flags and reverently spending time with each hero. Hard to believe this small band could place so many flags in such a sort time. When they were done the sea of red white and blue inspiring.
The ceremony started like many with a prayer, the pledge and national anthem. Then took a different turn as I invited visiting dignitaries and supporters to share what was on their heart. Why were they there? Not to support my journey specifically but what being there meant to them. It was a wonderful time of sharing, with inspirational words from all. I did share a bit about the journey but very little, and concluded as I have everywhere in this nation, with a personalized flag presentation to two special women. Susan booth who lost her husband Arlie Spenser in Cambodia in 1970 and Kate McLaughlin, who lost her son in march of 2008, Iraq. This truly is the heart of the mission, touching lives in a special and tangible way. I hope to hear many stories of his today and the days past have touched the people I have met. And I challenge those who believe in this mission, to continue to sponsor flags and reach out to the thousands of families yet to reach. Please enjoy the coverage we received on this final day of tribute.
Tomorrow: Post Arlington. Pick up all the placed flags.
Phase one is behind, So much more ahead… I count on your continued support. Stay tuned.