Beautiful Death

Arlington_75_2We went to Arlington to say good bye to Rich’s father and to honor his lifetime of service to his country. I don’t have the skills to put into words that experience and even pictures don’t capture the afternoon but I will post a photo album.

The morning after the service some of us went to see the new National WWII Monument that just opened last year near the Vietnam Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. Somehow I missed the middle school field trip to the nation’s capitol- maybe we didn’t have them back then- so this was all new to me. I’ve also had mixed feelings about things military: I’ve been proud that my father served in the Pacific during WWII and I remember watching from our campus apartment the lottery that sent friends off to a miserable cause that we loathed and protested. Nevertheless, the  beauty of these monuments to war and death and heroism is staggering. The bronze bas relief murals depicting scenes from life during war time are fine art. The two mallards in love that had staked out the entire enormous new base of the reflecting pool for themselves, frolicking in the midst of hundreds of fountain sprays were comical. And having seen Daniel Chester French’s workshop at Chesterwood in Stockbridge, MA. but never the finished product made the Lincoln Memorial that much more impressive. I thought, yes indeed, what a piece of work is man…

The other reason this gathering in Washington was so important to the family is because we were also all saying goodbye, for at least the next 18 months, to Rich’s brother, Bill. At 55, he too, has dedicated himself to military service in Special Forces and last year he finally retired as Lt. Colonel and went home to his wife and children in California. Within a couple of months he was called back, for two more years in Iraq. He leaves shortly. Bill is very unassuming and self effacing and while the rest of us in this family have been going on against the government, Bush, the war and the unconscionable cost of the military in this country, Bill has been quietly going about the business of his work. Wednesday night he said, "I didn’t volunteer for this but I’m not going to run from it."  Seeing Bill walk behind the caisson with his 3 brothers…well, right now this man is my hero.


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