I too took a walk today. This walk also was to be nothing special, just like the other numerous walks i've taken. It was only during the walk that the significance of it was made known to me. Today, I took a walk with some family and friends. I expected my grandfather, for I knew he would be there, it was the friends that I didn't expect. These friends weren't unwelcome however, as friends seldom are. They were friends I'd not seen or heard from in years. They were friends I was not close to. They were friends who were unexpectedly here. As I strolled along the wide avenues of Arlington National Cemetary, I thought about all the headstones that were there. I saw the dates and conflicts on them, dating back well over one hundred years. Many belonged to tenants who would never be visited again, their individual efforts and accomplishments all but lost to that deep well, time.
I walked along in the humid Washington D.C. heat, trying to help my buddy find a marker from a fallen comrade of his. At last we came to it, and we paused as he paid his respects. It was now as I looked around, I saw my friends. Unknowingly, I had come to walk with them, too. I saw names of men I'd not seen in years, and sadly, will never see again. As I walked those rows, flanked by headstones of so many fallen comrades, I knew that my walk was for them. We never really think about those whom we will never walk with again, in the context of their actual movement. While we may regularly dwell on the memories of our friends, the jokes they told, the missions we did, the complaints we shared, we never stop to think about the walk. The common walk. That which we do daily, without thought, without significance. It is only now, when they will walk no farther, do I know how much I will miss those walks. It was today, that I walked with family and friends.
I compel those of you that read this to take a moment to remember those that gave all. As you walk along enjoying your day at the park that is America, think of them. They have paid the fare to the boulevard along which you will continue to walk. They have paid the price of the admission, and given you the ticket.
Finally, my grandfather. A great man who helped to shape the way I am today. A man who gave me guidance in my early days in the Army. A man who even after losing his battle with cancer continued to give of himself. He is buried not in the soft soil of Arlington, but in the mausoleum. His ashes are there because he donated his remains to science, in the hopes that while he fell not in battle but to sickness, his fall might be so that others may live. A man who gave his all, when his all was the only thing left to give. CW4 Russell Vay McConnell