Today I am remembering 50 years ago, as are many others. I was thinking about the actual day - yesterday. I was sitting in my Fourth Grade classroom and my teacher left the room and came back crying. She said that the President had been shot. We all looked at each other but I don't think many of us really understood the impact of what we had heard. I just remember my teacher (a stern, older lady who rarely smiled and never spoke much, except to teach. My dad called her "rocky" since she was mostly interested in geology and had us all searching for rocks through out the year) sitting at her desk sobbing! So when I think of 4th Grade I think of this day and the fact that she gave me a D in handwriting! At any rate, that day my father and mother talked to me about Kennedy and his death. I also found out that we were given time off of school so that we could follow the events on television. My mom and dad worked, but I remember sitting and watching everything. I remember seeing the casket loaded onto the Air Force One. I remember seeing the flag covered casket in the Capitol rotunda, and the entire funeral and burial service. I remember the riderless horse. And Caroline and John. They were so close in age to me........ it was so real.
So in 2010 when Ken and I went to Washington DC - my first ever trip to DC - one of the first places we went was to Arlington Cemetery. I stood and looked at this marker and the eternal flame and it was as if I was back in 1963 watching it happen. It was an eerie feeling. And then, when I turned around and saw the inscription on the wall looking out toward Washington DC and across that sea of tombstones, it took my breath away. (As a side note, it was very early in the morning - about 9am and it was already 103 degrees! We were in DC during the worst heat wave they had ever had! So it was quite possible that the heat had something to do with my reaction) This was one of the most moving parts of my visit to Washington.
On this same visit to Arlington we also watched the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknowns. It was impressive. As we watched in the extreme heat, these guards never missed a beat. I was imagining the same process during snow or rain or storms. Amazing. You can read about Changing of the Guard in the link. I love the last line of this article from the Arlington National Cemetery website - The Guards of Honor at the Tomb of the Unknowns are highly motivated and are proud to honor all American service members who are "Known But to God." I love that this 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment is honoring all that are not named, but known to God! I love this acknowledgement of God in this part of our history.
So, today I am very thankful for the way that the United States of America has maintained these National Monuments and made it possible for all of us to experience the events of our nation in a more personal way.
Jesus, thank you for reminding me today of our vacation in Washington DC. Thank you for connecting our memories to events and dates. Holy Spirit, I love how you bring clarity to past events and help us to understand how you were working during all the seasons of our life. Jesus, thank you for the destiny that you have for the United States. And thank you for the plans you have for all of us. Amen