Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Service, Sacrifice & Solidarity


I don't usually comment in my essays on my travels, but this week has had quite a deep impact on yours truly.  Heading out of Atlanta on Monday, I flew to BWI and was picked up by dear old friend and work partner Cathy, who joined me on quite an intense adventure yesterday ( Tuesday) at the Shapell Center.... the archives of the Holocaust Museum... in Bowie Md.  I was doing research on a family member, my Uncle Jim, who fought in WW II and participated in the liberation of a concentration camp in April of 1945.  It was just recently that I discovered that there were original documents and photographs of his in the Holocaust Museum archives, and I made an appointment for a research visit yesterday.  I can't yet describe, or even really process the experience, and will try to find a path to share more on this experience and the resulting insights in a future essay.... to say it was intense and overwhelming is an understatement.

After leaving the Shapell Center, in a very heavy mood, I asked Cathy if we had time to go to Arlington to visit the National Cemetery (  somehow, it was the only place that made sense after reviewing the photos and docs,  and we made our way through DC and parked in a quiet spot in the Cemetery near where a relative of hers is buried.  The picture above is from that spot and I wanted to share it in this essay.  I was overwhelmed and surrounded by so many who has served their/our country and made incredible sacrifices.... some with their lives...not knowing what they would be called on to do.  The breadth of the sense of service and sacrifice was brought into sharp relief by an active funeral of a navy veteran just to the north of where this photo was taken.  These acts of service and sacrifice were certainly historic, just like my Uncle Jim's incredible service and sacrifice from almost 80 years ago, AND they are very current and contemporary.  So many young men and women serving OUR country today, making incredible sacrifices today... "inspiring" seems like just too trite of a word to describe the immensity of their actions and the immensity of our gratitude that is required!

I included the word "Solidarity" in my title because coming out of the Shapell Center and at Arlington, I felt an intense pride in being American.  I am not polly-anish or naive about the complexity of our history, but when I think about the soldiers & sailors that have left our shores to support and defend the ideals of freedom and democracy while fighting the nightmarish dreams of dictators bent on destinies of racial genocide and global domination ... I am personally humbled, and profoundly thankful.  As I was taking the picture above, I was also struck that Arlington is not subdivided by political party, or personal ideology.  This is a sacred spot, maybe one of the most sacred,  for ALL AMERICANS... not of one party or another, not one class, creed, race, nationality, or another.... a sacred spot for all of us as Americans that reminds us all of the sacrifice and service of so many for what we hold dear.  As we move as a country into election season of 2024, I hope to keep these images and sensibilities of "Service, Sacrifice & Solidarity" present and keep focused on the path forward for all of us as Americans.