By Lee Scott
Two years ago, I wrote about going to visit my father at Arlington National Cemetery. This year, for the first time, I took my four grandchildren. Their great-grandfather is buried at the Columbarium in Arlington.
As we sat there on the bench looking at Dad’s headstone, the questions started.
“Why is he in such a little box?”
“What about a coffin?”
“Who are all these other people?”
“What does Tec SPC mean?”
I turned to my daughter, Faith, and daughter-in-law, Pam, and said, “Your turn.”
They answered their questions and told stories about my father. After a while the kids started to walk around and look at all the names of other soldiers. They were curious as to the ones who died young and the ones who were very old.
Then they came back to me and asked, “Why is there a cross over great-grandpa’s name?” I explained that he was a Christian.
“But why,” they asked, “are there so many different crosses and what are these other symbols?”
I got up and looked. They were right. I had never noticed before.
I started to point out, Methodist, Lutheran and Episcopal. Then I realized I did not recognize other symbols.
Pam found a list of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs approved “emblems of belief” that are available. As the kids walked around they found Judaism, Hindu and other faith symbols.
We all discovered it does not matter which faith symbol hangs over the name. The soldiers’ common bond was belief that the United States of America was worth defending and despite their differences, they came together.
On the way back home to Beaufort, I drove by the Beaufort National Cemetery on Boundary Street. Turns out, you do not have to drive all the way to Arlington to visit a National Cemetery. You may have noticed burials going on there sometimes.
I went into the cemetery and met John Williams, a retired Marine and one of the volunteers. He explained that in the cemetery there are soldiers who fought on both sides of the Civil War along with many others who later served to defend America.
So, before you attend your Fourth of July barbecue and before you attend the fireworks, you may want to visit Beaufort National Cemetery. It is a good reminder of all those soldiers who have served their country.
And while you are at it, try to take some children with you. It is important they understand early about what fighting for our freedom means. But, be prepared, you may have to answer a lot of questions.
Happy Fourth of July!