Traffic was backed up in town this morning. The radio announcer said it was due to the additional numbers of people driving in and out of Arlington National Cemetary. It was also foggier than usual, warm. It may reach the mid 60's today, yet too white and foggy to see the traffic lights until right upon them (even at 9:30 am).
I first became aware of the Wreaths Across America program from this post: What are You Doing on Dec.14th ? Apparently someone decided that every marker in a National Cemetary should have a wreath fresh from Maine during December / Christmastime, and today, December 14th, is the date. (Karen and Morrill Worcester and their inolvement are featured in this article from The Washington Post: Maine Wreath-Maker Honors Veterans - washingtonpost.com)
Uncle Billy died in the Korean "Conflict." He was a teenager, likely hadn't spent much time outside of Maine previously. Perhaps he went into Boston for a Red Sox game, I hope, or into New Hampshire, maybe even into Canada, but, Maine was home. He was a POW. Likely cause of death for William Douglas, was dysentry as a teenaged POW in Korea. Uncle Billy, et al, pieces of my mother's life
William Douglas, aka, Uncle Billy, aka William Douglass (incorrectly how he's listed in Army records, while my mother works to correct that), is eligible for a white cross in Arlington National Cemetary. There is a hill there, perhaps more than one, where too many white crosses, perhaps a few Star of David's, are placed. Those are for the men and women whose remains have not been returned to their homeland. Billy's physical remains are likely quite decomposed by now, there in Korea. There is a family cemetary in Maine, near our beloved Douglas Mountain, with a tombstone for Billy. Waiting. It likely smells nicely of pine there right now. Wherever Billy "is," I know he, too, would appreciate a wreath today, a wreath that, for him, would be from home. So, thank you everyone who does this on his behalf, and for the others. I bet they'll look beautiful:)
BJ, a proud vet himself, once told me that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is for Billy, and us, too. I hadn't thought of that previously. When the "unknown soldier" was returned from Vietnam, from that war, it lay in rest in the Capitol rotunda at first. I came over from College Park area, where I was attending classes, to stand in line at the Capitol with others. I got to pause, pray silently for a moment in the solemn marble building, and give a rose. Actually, I imagine it a rose but not positive it wasn't another flower instead. In honor of Cousin Danny, see, who'd send photos of himself, smiling, in uniform, standing in a rice paddy, to our grandmother. I'd been a kid then, not fully comprehending what was going on, that Danny was fighting a war there in Vietnam. She'd worry so, that his letters to her were full of more positive things. He came home:)
My father was stationed in Alaska, and, obviously to any reader, still survives and was not overseas or in danger. He enjoyed some memories made there, and he'll still look at his black and white photos in his scrapbook, pointing out snow and mountains to me. His father, my grandfather from Ireland, was in the US military as well. I'd seen his photo in full uniform, just hadn't connected until after the World War II memorial was complete, and visited, in D.C., that Grandad has served during that timeframe.
But, Billy? I wish you a wreath, from Maine, from your home, today, too:) Merry Christmas.
Update 12/15/06: Carol Guzy of The Washington Post had a front page photo of volunteer wreath-layers at Arlington National Cemetary pausing, some to salute, as a funeral procession passed along. That shot I can't find online. This one, however, also by Carol Guzy, speaks on its own: