Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Arlington, About Time

Over the past several years, I have been to many cemeteries in Europe and have seen war memorials around the world, but I had never been to Arlington despite working around the corner for a year and visiting DC on a regular basis [Update: my big sister reminded me that I went there as part of a family trip when I was 6 or 7--I have no memory of that trip although I seem to remember visiting the White House in the two years we lived in DC].  So, I was due.  And D-Day +1 + 72 years made for good timing. As a scholar of conflict and war, it pays to spend some time being reminded about the costs.  One can snark and be blase about the costs of using the military as an instrument of policy, so seeing these resting places is a good reminder of the costs of the policies one advocates.

Women's memorial
 I am in DC for about 24 hours--to present how blogging can help bridge the gap beteween policy makers and academics, so I had time in between lunch with my dissertation adviser (unbreakable vow indeed) and a 4pm beer call with my natsec twitter friends.  I spent that time wandering around Arlington National Cemetary.

The site is beautiful, peaceful and full of respect for those who gave their all and then some.  The location is perfect because:
  • More by accident than by design, the land was taken from Robert E. Lee to use as the Union was running out of places to put the dead.  So, the traitor lost territory (his descendants got a big check to compensate, alas) to put the dead that he helped cause (had Lee been a lousier general, the Union might not have lost as many lives).
  • It is around the corner from the Pentagon, so those who plan and deploy the troops have a constant reminder of the costs of their decisions.
  • It is across the river but quite nearby the White House and the Congress, which should but does not always remind these folks of the gravity of their decisions.  It is easy for folks elsewhere to declare the need to do MOAR in Syria, Iraq, etc. since they do not work near the place where the folks lost in previous military efforts rest.  
  • 101st memorial
  • And it is so close to the other memorials nearer to the Mall that also mark the big efforts of the past--the Vietnam memorial, the WWII memorial, Korea, etc.
 I wish I had more time and was better equipped (nice clothes and a heavy bag were not great for exploring on a warm DC day), but I was glad I made the trip and will definitely try to get a guided tour since I missed much on this trip.  Oh, and, just like last year's trip, at the airport, the gate next to mine was full of vets from Peoria who had spent  a day visiting Arlington and other DC sites.  Mostly very old folks, but very feisty ones. 


JFK/RFK and eternal flame
Teddy Kennedy
Memorial for those who died in the
failed Iran hostage rescue effort

Challenger Memorial
Columbia Memorial

Tomb of Unknown Soldier
 And, yes, blogger does really give me good control of how the pics appear.


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