Saturday, December 16th, 9 NOAA Corps officers met at Arlington National Cemetery to lay wreaths upon the graves of veterans in remembrance of their service to our nation.
The temperatures were barely above freezing but people poured in from all entrances of the cemetery to help distribute the many truckloads of wreaths. Those who were handing out the wreaths gave the instruction, "Make the bow look nice, lay it upon the grave, and say the service member's name out loud. Take a moment to appreciate their sacrifice." It was moving to see so many individuals taking that moment to reflect on the unknown lives of those lived whom we were memorializing. Putting ourselves in their boots for a few moments to try to understand what it would have been like to serve in WWII, Korea, or any of the conflicts written into the white marble.
Most of the wreaths laid on one side of the tombstones, against the names of the men who served, but I noticed at one point the names of their spouses written on the back. I found myself looking to their side of the row, wondering about their sacrifices as well. Then I was surprised to find the names, and ranks, of women who served. I noted a Captain in the Airforce. On another stone, a Lieutenant in the Navy who served during WWII with her enlisted spouse memorialized on the opposite side. Women and their contributions to these conflicts are often overlooked and I realized I had overlooked them too by only looking to my right when walking by preparing to place a wreath. Only imagining what it must have been like for them to serve, I felt so much pride but also sadness that even in death they were often still overlooked.
My next two wreaths I placed went to the Navy couple. I imagined how they met, and how they may have had to hide their relationship while they served. I am grateful for these people, also for everyone who came out to place wreaths that cold day. While walking back to the car, I thought about how valuable it is to remember those who served, not only because of their sacrifice but because of the history they made and how it has formed us today.
Many thanks to LT Piccard who organized the event. It was a priority of his to make this happen since the beginning of his time on the board! It was the last DC ACO event of the year, and one that I hope to take part in again next year.