Monday, May 26, 2008
Memorial Day, Part Four
Memorial Day at Fort Smith National Cemetery is a moving annual event. The drives leading through the cemetery are lined with American flags and each of the headstones is fronted by a smaller flag.
The resulting combination of red, white, blue and green is among the most impressive I have ever seen, and I am an individual who frequents the final resting places of our nation's war dead.
The Civil War section of the cemetery struck me the first time I ever visited because of the way the Union and Confederate dead are buried together. In many other national cemeteries of the same era, this is not the case.
Yet at Fort Smith, as you walk among the graves, you will see an unknown Confederate soldier buried near an unknown Union soldier. Black and white Civil War dead are buried here together.
The cemetery also provides a somber reminder of the cost of war to our country. From large Civil War section, it is a short walk to visit the graves of men who served in other wars. Gen. William O. Darby, the namesake of the famed "Darby's Rangers" of World War II (today's U.S. Army Rangers) is buried here, as are men who served in the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf Wars.
I can think of no better place for remembering the sacrifices of America's veterans.