I grip the hand of my son. His six-year-old fingers squeeze back as we walk a step behind his nine-year-old brother. The damp ground moistens the bottoms of my shoes as I shuffle to the sound of the cadence of the horses’ hooves 20 feet ahead of us as they pull the caisson carrying the remains of what was my Marine.
Arlington is otherwise still. The rain has kept tourists away, but the freshly manicured grass and spicy scent of autumn leaves drift through the air and fill the soul with peace.
It’s an irony that is not wasted on me. This noble place. It’s not one wishes to race for, but rather one strives to. Guarded by sentries long gone, their granite tombstones welcome its newest arrival. I smile as I remember the lyrics of the Marine Corps Hymn, If the Army and the Navy / Ever look on Heaven’s scenes, / They will find the streets are guarded / By United States Marines.
A cardinal flutters and lands on a branch above. It is not a sad day, but rather one of honor that few will ever know. I shiver and shove my empty hand into my pocket.