(Please excuse the delay in posting. BigDra and I have been traveling -- although that's only half newsworthy. Rants about trivial local news will be back soon).
I got to D.C. last Sunday, in time to meet my cousins' eight-week-old baby and spend Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery, "our nation's most sacred shrine." The President was speaking at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, but I was there to see Ken Ballard.
His mother, Karen Meredith, had been kind enough to invite me to the ceremony to mark the third year since his death. It meant a lot to me to be there, knowing Ken only through the tearful stories his mother relates and the awed tones in which his friends described him to me.
Karen and her family decorated Ken's headstone as a crowd of maybe 15 of us gathered at Ken's gravesite in Section 60, donning buttons with Ken's face in front of an American flag background. Karen talked briefly about her son, in the same touching manner she always does. One of his commanding officers spoke of the strength his soldiers felt for him. She passed around a book about Arlington for us to sign. Then, with nothing more to say, she popped a bottle of champagne, and we celebrated.
It was the first Memorial Day since the death of our neighbor Will Sigua and my college teammate Nate Krissoff. In the many more Memorial Days that will hopefully follow for the rest of us, let us remember all of them fondly and continue to aspire to the examples they set for us.