Greater Greater Washington

Public Spaces


Remember our country's heroes

In the midnight hour of May 30th, I received an email from a long-time friend. The subject was simply, "john - this is bad news."


Grave of Sgt. Julian Chase, USMC at Arlington National Cemetery. Photo by the author.

My friend's son, her only child, a 22-year old Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, who grew up on 14th Street NW, a product of DC Public Schools, was killed while serving with an elite unit in Afghanistan.

This Saturday I paid my respects at Grave 10084, Section 60 in Arlington National Cemetery.

While my younger brother was serving in Afghanistan with the 3rd Marines, 9th Battalion in 2011 a friend of his, Sergeant Sean T. Callahan gave the last full measure of devotion to his country. I paid my respects to Sergeant Callahan, as well. Others had, too, leaving sacraments including draping dog tags for the Washington Redskins over his grave stone.

While the cemetery is visited by millions of tourists every year, it is the solemn destination for thousands upon thousands of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, family members, friends, and brothers-in-arms and sisters-in-arms who will never see their loved one again or hear their voice. It is without question our nation's most hallowed ground.

On May 30, 1871 Frederick Douglass gave a short address, "The Unknown Loyal Dead" at Arlington National Cemetery. An excerpt:

Those unknown heroes whose whitened bones have been piously gathered here, and whose green graves we now strew with sweet and beautiful flowers, choice emblems alike of pure hearts and brave spirits, reached in their glorious career that last highest point of nobleness beyond which human power cannot go. They died for their country.
On this Veterans Day we remember the living and the deceased men and women who have honorably worn the uniform of their country.

Never above you. Never below you. Always beside you.

If you are in Rock Creek Park or Fort Reno and feel a gust of wind from out of nowhere, it's just Julian letting you know he's always got your back, front, and both sides.

John Muller is a local journalist and historian. His first book, Frederick Douglass in Washington, DC: The Lion of Anacostia, was selected as the 2013 DC Reads winner. His newest book is Mark Twain in Washington, DC

Comments

Add a comment »

Rest in peace.

by H Street LL on Nov 12, 2012 4:17 pm • linkreport

Fitting tribute. Residents of this town bear a great deal of the burden of national defense, with all five branches and the Department of Defense being headquartered here, plus however many bases, forts, schools, and other military infrastructure.

When I graduated from Basic Training just a few weeks after 9/11 (I was actually in training when it happened), I took a great deal of pride announcing at my graduation my name, rank, and "home state" of the District of Columbia. This city supports the entire military in a way nowhere else does, and I am very grateful for that.

As we remember the many who have fought, keep SPC Thomas Doerflinger and SGT David Davis, two local Army soldiers who both died in Iraq.

by Dave Murphy on Nov 12, 2012 7:09 pm • linkreport

God bless Julian and his family for the service and sacrifice that their son has given. He will always be in our family's prayers.

by J Jones on Nov 12, 2012 11:22 pm • linkreport

@Dave Murphy

Thank you for your service and for sharing insights on your experience. Very true about Washington, in many ways, being a "military town." I'm glad that the Nationals have started to embrace this heritage.

God bless SPC Thomas Doerflinger and SGT David Davis and their families.

by John Muller on Nov 13, 2012 6:41 am • linkreport

When I look at the beautiful faces of the people we've lost in Iraq, I still can't forget how we got there. I'm truly sorry for the loss and incredibly grateful that we have people who take such pride in serving our country.

by Thayer-D on Nov 13, 2012 7:57 am • linkreport

John,

This is horribly sad, truly inspiring and awesomely beautiful.

All of us who have served, and all of us who haven't, understand what this sacrifice means to his grieving family. They are the heroes for being able to get by after this loss.

Unfortunately if we are to have any peace at all, we must have the military.

Honor to those who came home and those who didn't.

by Jack Lowe on Nov 13, 2012 9:49 pm • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

or

Support Us