Inspired by America’s best

Published 9:44 pm Monday, December 14, 2009

As it seems I repeat so often in this column, I love my job because it gives me the opportunity to do many things and go many places where I probably wouldn’t have found myself otherwise.

On Saturday, I was one of hundreds of people at the Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery. All of us were there to pay tribute to the 2,665 veterans and veterans’ spouses buried in the cemetery. I was also covering the story for the paper.

I’ve always enjoyed thinking about the massive amounts of history that cemeteries hold. Almost nowhere else in the world contains more history than cemeteries — whether they’re as large as Arlington National Cemetery or as small as the little three-grave cemeteries that dot the countryside around here.

The Horton cemetery — though it doesn’t have the age or unique memorials that, say, Cedar Hill Cemetery has — is particularly meaningful because of the veterans. The first burial was only seven years ago, and yet already it contains history that most textbooks can only dream about.

Since its opening in 2002 with the burial of Albert G. Horton Jr., who helped push the project to completion, more than one burial per day has occurred at the cemetery — all free for the veterans who have served our country so honorably.

At the wreath-laying ceremony on Saturday, I saw the best our country’s military has to offer. I saw active-duty military proudly presenting the colors of their country; tears in veterans’ eyes as “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played; more than 2,000 buried who gave their all for their country.

Civilians, too, were at their best on Saturday. Parents were teaching their children how to respectfully walk around graves, salute the flag, and remain quiet during the moment of silence. During the national anthem, everyone I could see had his hand on his heart — something that rarely happens in these days of disrespect for one’s country.

After talking to several people about why they came out — Patriot Guard Riders, parents of current active-duty soldiers and more — I left the cemetery slightly warmer than when I arrived. Not only had the temperature risen since 9 a.m., but I had had the rare opportunity of spending a day in the company of hundreds of other people with one common goal.

After four hours of the cemetery, I left and headed to the next event to cover. I’ll look forward to being at the cemetery for the event again next year.