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Friday Slide Show: Honoring Heroes Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

11 November 2022

We took a break from our errands yesterday to stop by the San Francisco National Ceremony the day before Veterans Day to pay our respects.

It's a beautiful location. Tall eucalyptus trees and dramatic Monterey cypresses border the grassy hillside that overlooks the bay. Angel Island fittingly stares back at the more than 30,000 graves of fellow Americans resting in peace here, some as long ago as the Civil War.

We walked up the roadway between tall poles of American flags set out for the occasion to the top corner where, just beyond an iron gate, a stone overlook under the trees provides a place for meditation.

As we climbed the hill, we passed many of the modern marble markers of military cemeteries as well as older marble gravestones and some even more elaborate ones. On the backs of many were the names of the spouse of the veteran whose name appeared on the front. Sometimes even their children's name were engraved there.

The gravestones were also marked with symbols for each creed. And no doubt all races are represented, although no one can tell skin color from a grave.

We presented an earlier slide show of the cemetery in May 2016 on a sunny but foggy day. That time we were focused on the drama and the details around Memorial Day, which honors the fallen.

But yesterday we were in a different mood, thinking of the living as well, as we walked alone through the cemetery.

We saw the big picture. We felt a desire to show not just an interesting gravestone but the array of gravestones, a chorus of America, having sung their part in their day so we may sing ours now before our lives, too, come to an end.

We were particularly touched by a small bronze plaque we'd never noticed before. It explained the gravestones in that section were for veterans "whose remains have not been recovered or identified, were buried at sea, dontated to science or cremated and the ashes scattered."

No hero, in short, has been forgotten. Which, it struck us, is exactly as it should be.

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