Monday, May 31, 2010
5am Memorial Day...it was all I could do to not talk myself out of going straight home after work at 6am and going to bed. I had promised myself that I would go out to the Sacramento Valley National Cemetary and for once actually, really take the effort to put the memory into Memorial Day. It was beautiful and breezy outside as I bounded down the stairs with my camera bag and saw the sun breaking through the clouds out to the East. I've driven past the cemetary sign a few dozen times, but never stopped to check it out. Earlier this year, I spent the better part of an hour in a snow dusted National Cemetary in Eastern Tennessee camera-in-hand, reading headstones from soldiers who had been born, lived, and died a century ago. Different locale and horizon, but the same sober haunting feeling washed over me. Who were these men and women? Would they be proud to have served and died for the country as it stands today?
Driving slowly through the gates, there were just a few other souls present - a news truck and reporter knee-deep amongst the headstones waiting for the early morning news, a couple of other photograpers, and a few members of the Veteran's Honor Guard in full dress preparing for the days services.
Quietly, I walked through the headstones reading the names and noticing the dates engraved on each of them. Fathers, sons, brothers, sisters, mothers, husbands, wives...soldiers, Americans. They each bore a message of thankfulness. On a day that seems to have lost some of it's purpose to bargain packs of hot dogs, mattress sales, 4-day weekend camping trips, and the mark of the first day on the lake, I am glad I convinced myself to spent the end of my early morning remembering the importance of the day. God Bless America.