Cheat-Seeking Missles

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Somber Stillness Of The Place

If you have ever walked through Arlington National Cemetery in the winter, when the leaves are off the trees and the tourists are off to warmer places, you know how quiet it can be.

The stillness, the emptiness, the natural beauty all make it a wonderfully sad and proud place; a fitting place to honor some of the greatest Americans who ever lived.

Thomas Schaller, a professor and Dem author, honors them and their resting place today in a very moving column in WSJ that focuses on Section 60 of Arlington, where those who fought and served in the current war against Islamic terrorism rest. Here's how it ends:

I then found the grave of Neil Armstrong Prince, the fatality that has so far most affected me. A native of Baltimore, where I teach, Sgt. 1st Class Prince was killed along with a 22-year-old Iowa man when an IED blew up their vehicle in Al Taqaddum on June 11, 2005.

In a city where black men are lucky to battle their way out of poverty and avoid being seduced by the twin lures of crime and drugs, Prince was a stereotype-buster. Husband, father of a young son, here was a proud African-American soldier with a first and middle names taken from a white American hero and a surname befitting the life he led.

The newest row of graves in Section 60 have no headstones yet because, I was informed, it sometimes takes three months after burial for them to be carved and installed. These graves are assigned temporary placards with essential information, like the name of Staff Sgt. Henry W. Linck at marker No. 60-8515. The 23-year-old native of Manhattan, Kan., had been interred that very morning, the dirt covering his coffin still damp brown.

One space over, I see that a hole next to Sgt. Linck’s has already been dug for the next burial. Two parallel ladders have been placed across its opening, the wooden stake between them indicating marker No. 60-8516 — the spot reserved for one of the 26 Americans killed since Linck died, on Dec. 7, and who shall forever rest there.

Schaller may have written the piece to protest the war. If he did, he was honorably subdued about it. I chose to read it as a touching tribute, a reminder that this is a true war, and a reasonable plea that it be fought as well as it possibly can.

hat-tip: Real Clear Politics

Related Tags: , , ,