If you live in NJ, you may have heard of the Brigadier General William C. Doyle Veterans Cemetary in Arneystown. It is somewhat near JB MDL. As far as I can see, it is the Arlington cemetery of NJ. It is an expansive space with hundreds of our fallen veterans. Each Memorial Day the Boy Scouts place a single American flag on each and every one of the hundreds of graves. It is a sight to behold. Hundreds of flags all blowing in the same direction. It is a sobering and humbling experience every year.
This year my nieces asked if they could come along. They are in elementary and intermediate school. When we pulled into the long driveway the youngest gasped and said how pretty it was. As we drove around the bends and turns, she asked what the flags represented. I was quiet for a moment and said, "The flags represent someone who dedicated their life to serving our country." She responded by saying, but there are so many. Again I took a moment and said, "Yes. There are hundreds here and thousands all over our country."
We exited the car and I instructed them to walk carefully through the rows, paying attention to each of the gravestones that lie flat on the ground. We came to our spot and silence fell over us. I can tell you after 18 years, you never get over it. It still brings you to your knees. In the distance, we heard the sound of bagpipes and again my youngest niece turned and pointed...."There they are." A line of bagpipers walking through the rows playing to the honor of those that have been laid to rest. The girls held onto me, as my Mom said, "He knows we're here." Again the astute youngest says, "How does he know?" My response....."because I believe they all know we are here. They know they are never forgotten."
Although I believe what I've written above is hard to read, maybe it hits a bit closer to home than most of us would like, but it's this sobering reality that makes me believe more and more in what I do here. We must never forget that the way in which we honor our fallen is important because I don't believe anyone of them would ask to trade places. They would want us to live in the freedom they died for and they would want us to heal from their passing. We can allow our tears to fall and our hearts to hurt, but we mustn't try to be where they are through our own pain. We must stand up, as they did, and have the courage to move forward. The courage to set the example that they didn't die in vain. They died so others could live.
Dry your eyes and know that if you've come here to read this, you matter and there's a part of you that knows how much you matter........even on the days when it hurts or seems like too big a burden to carry. If they are truly watching over us from wherever it is that they've gone, then they would bid you to stand up and have courage to heal and help each other.
May God Bless Our Country, Our Troops, Our Healing.