To be “humbled” … A simple phrase with a meaning so significant it’s difficult to describe, and even more difficult to give justice. If asked however, the definition I would have recited was not so far off from the one as written in the dictionary: “low or inferior in station or quality; or marked by meekness or modesty; not arrogant or prideful”.
Searching for a deeper meaning was not a task I sought out to do, but when I stumbled upon it unexpectedly, the impact was nothing but powerful. In my small but inspiring journey, what I learned, was in order to be humbled, you had to truly feel it.
It wasn’t until I was in the presence of true greatness, honor and ultimate sacrifice, did I understand that that simple phrase had such profound meaning.
As I stood at the entrance of Arlington National Cemetery, I was humbled. The force of what the sacred ground represents was hard not to feel the instant you looked out toward the white stones, perfectly aligned no matter the direction you faced. It was a beautiful summer day, the sky was clear blue and even though the heat was almost unbearable, I was awestruck so it didn’t faze me. As I walked the black tar paths to the many memorials, each marked by large concrete structures, an eternal flame or elaborate markers, inscribed with the names of those fallen before us, in the name of us, words escaped me, and I was humbled.
Surrounded by people, but never feeling crowded, I slowly strolled along the paths only speaking when necessary. It was breathtaking, every bit, however two moments stay with me still. One, was when I passed a grieving widow, mother or friend who at that moment and the rest of her life, shared in the sacrifice that her loved one chose to embark, and one was witnessing the incredible strength and honor of the Changing of the Guard.
At The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier the backdrop was an immaculately kept garden so tranquil it seemed put the crowd that gathered at ease, yet you could still feel the raw emotions fill the air. We all watched in silence as a soldier, a mother’s son, dressed in full military uniform, in the blistering heat, strategically passed the honor of his position to another with pride, dignity and respect. The earth was still as my heart raced, and it became difficult to hold back the tears as this young person pronounced his dedication faithfully to the unknown – unknown by name, but famous by strength, honor and the fight for our freedom. As I watched this incredible sight, a sight that so simply yet so meaningfully defined the men and women of our country, who stand and march with their heads held high, never to waiver, never to complain and always with pride, I was humbled.
Time passed slowly and quietly as I finished my journey through the sacred ground but the clocked raced by, and I left Arlington National Cemetery that day changed. I was never more appreciative to be an American, never more in awe of the young men and woman who sacrifice their time, families and lives, and never more proud to be the daughter of a veteran.
Every day when we wake to our alarm clocks to start our day we should be thankful. Thankful that we can kiss our kids good morning, thankful that the job we may or may not like is waiting for us at the end of a long commute, thankful that the people we love are right beside us, or a phone call away, thankful that the quiet exists. Our freedoms can only be attributed to those who sacrifice their own, those who fight without question, and those who stand guard with nothing but faith; faith that their courage will not be remembered in vain.
We are gifted with the blessing of our voice because they lie silent…
Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough.