Arlington National Cemetery

THOUGHTS OF MEMORIAL DAY

Memorial Day reminds me of cemeteries and the fact I’m a proud Army brat. I’ve been to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery and watched as a trained soldier walked his special pace back and forth in front of the memorial. It’s a very moving ceremony and reminds me even more of my connection to the US Military. Because of modern technology, the Vietnam War unknown soldier has been identified using DNA. It seems unlikely now that there will be another unknown soldier.

 

Brigadier General Victor W. Hobson, Arlington National Cemetery

Brigadier General Victor W. Hobson, Arlington National Cemetery

 

My birth father, Brigadier General V.W. Hobson is buried at Arlington National Cemetery; the stepfather who raised me, Colonel A.D. Williams, is buried in a military cemetery close to Provo, Utah. My mother, who died too young at Brooke Army Hospital in San Antonio, was first laid to rest in the Ft. Sam Houston cemetery in Texas and over 20 years later buried on top of my dad in Utah. Both fathers had military funerals with gun salutes, etc.

My son Hans found the grave of his grandfather, Brigadier General Victor W. Hobson at Arlington National Cemetery last year. He and Jen, his wife, were celebrating their first year wedding anniversary with a short trip to Washington, D.C. They had been there some years ago, but this trip as a couple was a special one. Their hotel overlooked the infamous Watergate complex and was near Memorial Bridge. Arlington Cemetery, with its thousands of military graves and the eternal flame from the Kennedy graves, was just across the Potomac. It was Hans’ idea to check out the historical graveyard and look for my birth father’s grave. I’d never seen it, since I wasn’t able to travel across country to his funeral. I had luckily connected with him for the last time a few years before he died in 2000, hours shy of my 58th birthday. The photo my son took brought sentimental thoughts, especially since I had not grown up with my father–World War II and a divorce stood in the way. I did not meet him “officially” until I turned 21. Using the excuse of family history, I looked him up when he was stationed at the Pentagon.

There were no guns for my mother’s funeral but lots of tears and laughter as we remembered her. Fittingly, because of her love of music, the famous jazz musician Duke Ellington died on the day of her Texas funeral. My sister and I had our own private ceremony when we decided her coffin needed to be moved so that her grave would at least be close to family. After all, an Army wife is used to moving without being asked her opinion. I thought it was fitting that she was in the top position of the grave this time, with her husband on the bottom. As a matter of fact, she would have had a good laugh. Military wives learn early on to see humor almost everywhere.

Here’s to all those who have died for the good old USA, all those still protecting us, which now includes plenty of women, and to all the wives and families who support our military.

 

 

IN CELEBRATION OF AMERICAN SERVICEMEN ON MEMORIAL DAY

Memorial Day reminds me of cemeteries and the fact I’m a proud Army brat. I’ve been to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery and watched as a trained soldier walked his special pace back and forth in front of the memorial. It’s a very moving ceremony and reminds me even more of my connection to the US Military. Because of modern technology, the Vietnam War unknown soldier has been identified using DNA. It seems unlikely now that there will be another unknown soldier.

 

Tomb of the Unknown – 1943 photo

Interestingly, I discovered this web photo was taken in 1943, the year of my birth!

The following is information from the official website: The Tomb of the Unknowns, near the center of Arlington National Cemetery, is one of Arlington’s most popular tourist sites.

The Tomb contains the remains of unknown American soldiers from World War I and II, the Korean Conflict and (until 1998) Vietnam War. Each was presented with the Medal of Honor at the time of interment and the medals, as well as the flags, which covered their caskets, are on display at the Memorial Ampitheater directly to the rear of the Tomb.

The Tomb is guarded 24-hours-per-day and 365-days-per year by specially trained members of the 3rd United States Infantry (The Old Guard).

The Memorial Amphitheater has been the scene of the funerals of some prominent Americans (such as General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing) as well as the site of both Memorial Day and Veterans Day celebrations.

My birth father, Brigadier General V.W. Hobson is buried at Arlington National Cemetery; the stepfather who raised me, Colonel A.D. Williams, is buried in a military cemetery close to Provo, Utah. My mother, who died far too young at Brooke Army Hospital in San Antonio, was first laid to rest in the Ft. Sam Houston cemetery in Texas and over 20 years later buried on top of my dad in the Utah cemetery. Both my fathers had military funerals.

There were no guns for my mother’s funeral but lots of tears and laughter as we remembered her. She died on May 21, 1974, close to Memorial Day. She loved to dance and enjoyed jazz. Her Texas funeral was held the day  the famous jazz musician Duke Ellington died. I remember radio stations announcing Ellington’s death and playing bits of his fantastic music. “Satin Doll” was very appropriate because it reminded me of my lively beautiful mother. Years later, My sister and I had our own private ceremony when we decided her coffin needed to be moved so that her grave would at least be close to family. After all, an Army wife is used to moving without being asked her opinion. I thought it was fitting that she was on top this time. As a matter of fact, she would have had a good laugh. Military wives learn early on to see humor almost everywhere.

Here’s to all those who have died for the good old USA, all those still protecting us, which now includes plenty of women, and to all the wives and families who support our military.

 

 

In Remembrance of Memorial Day by Victoria Giraud

Memorial Day reminds me of cemeteries and the fact I’m a proud Army brat. I’ve been to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery and watched as a trained soldier walked his special pace back and forth in front of the memorial. It’s a very moving ceremony and reminds me even more of my connection to the US Military. Because of modern technology, the Vietnam War unknown soldier has been identified using DNA. It seems unlikely now that there will be another unknown soldier.

 

Tomb of the Unknown - 1943 photo

Interestingly, I discovered this web photo was taken in 1943, the year of my birth!

The following is information from the official website: The Tomb of the Unknowns, near the center of Arlington National Cemetery, is one of Arlington’s most popular tourist sites.

The Tomb contains the remains of unknown American soldiers from World War I and II, the Korean Conflict and (until 1998) Vietnam War. Each was presented with the Medal of Honor at the time of interment and the medals, as well as the flags which covered their caskets, are on display at the Memorial Ampitheater directly to the rear of the Tomb.

The Tomb is guarded 24-hours-per-day and 365-days-per year by specially trained members of the 3rd United States Infantry (The Old Guard).

The Memorial Amphitheater has been the scene of the funerals of some prominent Americans (such as General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing) as well as the site of both Memorial Day and Veterans Days celebrations.

My birth father, Brigadier General V.W. Hobson is buried at Arlington National Cemetery; the stepfather who raised me, Colonel A.D. Williams, is buried in a military cemetery close to Provo, Utah. My mother, who died too young at Brooke Army Hospital in San Antonio, was first laid to rest in the Ft. Sam Houston cemetery in Texas and over 20 years later buried on top of my dad in Utah. Both fathers had military funerals.

There were no guns for my mother’s funeral but lots of tears and laughter as we remembered her. Fittingly, because of her love of music, the famous jazz musician Duke Ellington died on the day of her Texas funeral. My sister and I had our own private ceremony when we decided her coffin needed to be moved so that her grave would at least be close to family. After all, an Army wife is used to moving without being asked her opinion. I thought it was fitting that she was on top this time. As a matter of fact, she would have had a good laugh. Military wives learn early on to see humor almost everywhere.

Here’s to all those who have died for the good old USA, all those still protecting us, which now includes plenty of women, and to all the wives and families who support our military.

 

 

Remembering Bobby Kennedy

The Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez wrote a very touching story today about Juan Romero, the Ambassador Hotel busboy who held Kennedy’s hand in the pantry as he lay dying in June, 1968.  The photo taken of the kneeling Juan Romero and Robert Kennedy sprawled on his back after being shot is a famous one. Romero, now 60 and a resident of San Jose, made a special trip with his daughter to Kennedy’s grave site at Arlington National Cemetery to honor his hero’s memory; Kennedy would have been 85 on November 20. Romero was greatly affected by the memory of that night and, Lopez said, honored the presidential candidate’s memory by “living a life of tolerance and humility.”

When the magnetic Robert Kennedy was killed, I was living in the San Fernando Valley. It was sad and depressing to know he was killed in my new hometown. I couldn’t help but remember the times I had seen him years before in Virginia and Washington, D.C. in the  early 1960s. This Life Magazine cover of June 14, 1968, makes me tear up even now. RFK was running along an Oregon beach followed by his dog Freckles.

Robert F. Kennedy and his dog Freckles

I had first seen the magnetic Robert Kennedy when I was a freshman at William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and he was campaign manager for his brother John Kennedy’s election as president of the U.S.  My real thrill came a couple of years later, in 1962, when President John Kennedy created an educational summer program for college students working for the government in offices in the Washington D.C. area. To initiate the program JFK himself met with student workers on the lawn of the White House. Although I don’t recall a word he said, it was probably an inspiring but short speech on how we were going to learn something about the inner workings of government, which was to take place several times during the summer at Constitution Hall, an auditorium near the Washington Mall that sat 4,000 people.

Student workers were bussed from various offices to spend a couple of hours listening to important members of government. I was picked up where I was working at Washington National Airport. I met my friend Barbara, also working for government, at Constitution Hall that afternoon. We  listened to some long-forgotten government officials and Robert Kennedy, the Attorney General at that time. What wisdom they imparted to us students, I no longer remember.

When the speeches were over, Barbara and I walked back to our busses. Barbara was the girlfriend who accompanied me to the U.S. Senate a few years before when we’d seen John Kennedy as a senator. I’ve written a blog post about it.

We were ambling along close to Constitution Hall when we passed a ramp leading to a building entrance. A limousine was parked there, angled downward, ready to leave with its passenger. We both glanced over and saw Robert Kennedy in the back seat, blue eyes flashing. He had spotted us and gave us a huge genuine grin and we smiled back, delighted that we’d seen him.

I lost touch with Barbara years ago, but I bet she also has a vivid memory of seeing Robert Kennedy, whose inner being seemed to pour out of his eyes.

Lopez’s column quoted something Robert Kennedy said, and it deserves repeating: “What we need in the United States is not division…not hatred…not violence or unlawfulness, but love and wisdom and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country…Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to take the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world…”

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