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It’s an odd contradiction, but Arlington National Cemetery is one of those places where — at least for me — history comes alive.
I’ve been to Arlington, just outside Washington D.C., several times. I’ve watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns, stood in the glow of the Eternal Flame at the grave of President John F. Kennedy and in the shadow of the mast of the USS Maine.
The Tomb, the flame, the mast and the precision of the Old Guard all make an indelible impression on any visitor. But a stronger one is left by row after row of gravestones, marching off in serried ranks; each one marking the final resting place of a man or woman who answered the call of duty.
Arlington is a place where sound is muted. A bird call seems acceptable, but you’re almost embarrassed if you find yourself forced to sneeze. Laughing seems almost sacrilegious.
But when we first started working on the story in this issue about the retirement of Pete Cote (See “Farewell To the Nation’s Farrier,” starting on Page 13), it was a sound that came to my mind — a sound that not only was acceptable at Arlington, but was integral to the solemnity of that hallowed place.
I was still in my early teens when I made my first visit. My family was visiting relatives in the area and my aunt took us to Arlington on a bright…