John Elder


THE SADDEST ACRE IN AMERICA


Before reaching the new gravestones in Arlington National Cemetery's it's easy to recognize why a simple, quilted, patch of green grass and white stones buried alongside the quiet banks of the Potomac River troubles the heart.
As one spends time in the section you can't help but breathe the restless cloud of uneasiness that hangs over the calm symmetry of the graves. Your eyes lie; you actually "see" the pieces of shattered hearts and lost ambitions scattered across the manicured grounds.
Names etched into fresh marble tell the sad tale of those young men and women of early varsity players benched early in the game. ‘Section 60' is America's promise to honor its warriors for first serving, and then dying, in the strange dusts on foreign soil.
Fathers, mothers, widows and children are all lost as they chase the ghost of vanished love inside the shadows of a sinister fog.
Watch an abandoned friend or family member alone in anguish softly whispering to the dead and you'll realize that the honor here were dealt the dead mans hand.
Cards that have forced grieving mothers to stare at the letters of her baby's name chiseled onto a gravestone not long after those same letters were neatly printed on a new birth certificate.
The impact of two distant wars became personal once the "knocks on the door" delivered the horrifying news and haunted a house forever. Prayers that the Pentagon "got it wrong" vanished when asked if they wanted an ‘Arlington' funeral.
Section 60' will be the last stop for those sons and daughters who were killed after announcing to their family they wanted to be "Army Strong" or part of "The Few…The Proud" and then fearlessly joined the deadliest profession.

Submitted: Thursday, February 21, 2013

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