Paying Our Christmas Respects at the Gerald B.H. Solomon National Cemetery

Sunday, December 27, 2020

 When everything in life seems to have become most of life in 2020, there remains one thing that seems perfectly normal.  That thing was the view at the Gerald B.H. Solomon National Cemetery.  That view today, during our annual Christmas visit, was just as familiar and unchanged as it's always been.  Neither Covid nor political unrest could ruin the tranquility that is always present in this military resting place.

Covid has stolen so much from us this year, not the least of which was our traditions, our hugs with friends and family, our joy and in some cases, our loved ones.  It's easy to get caught up in feeling sorry for ourselves and get distracted by our grief and frustration and by the absences of loved ones during the holidays.  Let's face it, 2020 has been a long and challenging road and no matter how much we force ourselves to focus on the positives, we sometimes drift off our path right into the ditch of despair.  Self pity is never useful and I find it important when I veer in that direction to focus on something beyond my own emotions when I can.  I always find solace and gratitude when I visit the National Cemetery.  It brings me back to reality and grounds me again, and gets me out of my self pity mood.  This visit was no exception.

Every year Wreaths Across America remembers and honors veterans by laying wreaths on the graves at Arlington National Cemetery and 2,100 other locations in the U.S., at sea and abroad.  This year the organization raised funds ($15.00 per wreath) in order to provide 13,100 wreaths in the Saratoga National Cemetery alone!  Even in these difficult and dire times, they reached their goal!  As if that weren't impressive enough, volunteers showed up to lay a wreath on every grave - despite 30" of fresh fallen snow.  Covid-19 complicated the process requiring the volunteers to work in shifts over an 8 hour day.  If that isn't impressive enough, the sight of so many wreaths on the graves of so many men and women who served our country is as humbling a sight as you can get.    Thanks to the miraculous work of Mother Nature, all 30" of snow has already melted since the wreaths were laid on December 19th leaving each wreath laying neatly against each stone.

That last one, George Durocher, is my great uncle along with the love of his life, my great aunt Harriet, 64 years of marriage and together for all eternity.  
I'm not typically a big cemetery person, but there's something humbling and centering that happens when I visit Saratoga National and see the rows of granite lined up, like soldiers tall and proud.  It reminds me that no matter the sacrifices I've had to make this past year, those sacrifices are nothing compared to the sacrifices all of these brave men and women made for our country - for you and for me.   We have given up some family gatherings and have missed our loved ones at our dining table, but my uncle left his new bride for three years to fight in WWII.  That's much more than I've ever given up for anything or anyone.  Sometimes life feels unfair and sometimes it legitimately is unfair, but sometimes we all need a reality check.   If you've never visited the Gerald B. Solomon National Cemetery, now would be a good time to do so.  Chances are, you know somebody here.  It's a sight you'll never forget and a feeling you'll want to experience again and again.  

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