Saturday, October 11, 2008

Section 60, the Saddest Acre in America

For those of us whose loved one died in Iraq or Afghanistan, Section 60 needs no other description. Section 60 is the final resting place at Arlington National Cemetery for our young military men & women

Ken was the 89th soldier from the Global War on Terror to be buried in Section 60. He lies in the second row, with at least 7 more rows in front of him. More than 500 families have buried their loved ones in our National Cemetery.


It wasn't hard to decide that Ken would be buried here, although it took a few months to complete the process. He was killed in May 2004 and buried in October 2004. Ken loved being a soldier and he belonged with his brothers and sisters in arms, where they will lie together in eternity.

We Section 60 families have a bond and while I do not get there as often as I would like, I have forged forever friendships with some of the families that I have met there. It takes me longer to visit Ken these days because I also visit the son's of friends who are buried there, Andy, Neil Jr, Alex, David, Russ. Their families do the same and leave mementos of love when they visit Ken's grave.

HBO is premiering a new documentary, SECTION 60: ARLINGTON MEMORIAL CEMETERY on Monday, October 13, 2008. The third in a trilogy of Iraq-related HBO documentaries (following the Emmy®-winning "Baghdad ER" and the Emmy®-nominated "Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq") from Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill, the moving verité special SECTION 60: ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY commemorates the lives of the deceased and the mourning of their survivors.

Back in May 2006, when HBO premiered Baghdad ER, I wrote here that that film should be mandatory viewing for everyone in the country. I expect the same of this one. We are reluctant voyeurs when we watch this kind of film, but we must witness this human cost of war, what is left behind as families try to find their new normal after this devastating loss. It would be easier to change the channel, but this is one way to honor those families who have left a piece of their heart in Section 60.

There will be tears when you watch this film, but they will be different kinds of tears than were shed while watching Baghdad ER. There will be a palpable feeling of loss and a desire to reach through the lens and offer comfort, but you know that isn't possible and that will be the hardest part in watching this film.

10 comments:

Chancelucky said...

Karen,
I imagine you've seen this, but just in case you haven't. http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/10/14/friendly_fire/

article about two soldiers killed by friendly fire. Albert Nelson and Roger Saurez-Gonzales.

thought you might have a lot to say about it.

Becca said...

I just watched Section 60 and I want to send you my love, support and gratitude. May God bless you and bring you comfort in your hard times.

Sis B said...

I just wanted to stop by and give you my gratitude and support. My husband is currently deployed to Afghanistan. I live in fear of my doorbell.

Thank you for speaking out. My heart goes out to you and I am glad you have been able to find support and friendships from the others there in Section 60. I doubt I will be able to watch the tv show for a very long time... but one day I will visit when I'm in that neck of the woods and stop by to see your Ken.

Sis B said...

I also just realized you have linked Brainhell, who was a dear blogfriend of mine. I found you through a completely different path and it makes the blogosphere so much smaller all of a sudden.

GSMSO- Gold Star Mom Speaks Out said...

Becca-

These are hard times indeed. Ken was buried at ANC 4 years ago on Wednesday. For some reason this year, this milestone has knocked me down hard. I truly would never wish this life on anyone, ever.

Thank you for your kind words.

GSMSO- Gold Star Mom Speaks Out said...

Hey Sis B-

Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and your kind words. I do what I do for your husband and his guys. I want them all to come home safely to their families NOW, not tomorrow, NOW!

While Section 60 Families share one bond, I also belong to a group of GS families who do not support this war. They are my new everyday friends, those who we never wanted to meet, but those who will always be a part of my life.

There are some movies that I still cannot watch, so I understand about "Section 60". It is well done and worth seeing, although not the kind of movie that you bring out the popcorn on Saturday night for. It will hold the test of time for when you are ready to watch.

I miss Brainhell. I miss his spirit and his courage. He was a good man who left this earth much too soon. We, of course, never met; I "met" him through another blogger. It is a small world and I'm glad you found me. Come back soon!

libhom said...

Thanks for reminding people of the war and the human costs. The cororate media's censorship of the losses of military families is repulsive.

Dom's Girl said...

My fiance and I had the opportunity to visit Section 60 this past December. He had just returned from a 15 month deployment in Iraq 2 weeks prior and we had decided to go and visit my sister who lives in D.C. I have never really been a fan of cemetery's myself but still found myself drawn to Section 60. It felt peaceful. I enjoyed looking at all of the graves admiring all of the pictures, flowers, and gifts that family members had left for their fallen Heroes. In a way, it was as if each Heroe's grave told a story about their life.
Fortunately my fiance came home safely this past deployment and I truly am blessed. Watching him walk around Section 60 was tough. Its like he had come to known his life overseas and now was returning home to the "aftermath" of it all. My fiance is the toughest man I know but even then I watched as he walked several steps in front of me trying to hide his tears. I couldnt find words good enough to console him (not that any words would every really suffice for such a moment). Instead, I just allowed him to walk along the rows and collect his thoughts.

My heart goes out to anyone and everyone who has lost someone in OIF or OEF. Both of these wars have had a tremendous effect on so many families. Your fallen loved one has paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect their country and they will forever and always be immortalized as a Hero.

Kelly said...

Hi,

My grandparents are buried in Section 60 (my grandfather passed in 1996 and my grandmother in 2006).

I am lucky and live in the DC area and am able to visit them often. Whenever I am there of recent times there is a funeral of one of the young soldiers currently fighting or there are many visitors to the section and it breaks my heart.

I just wanted to give you my support and let you know there are others in Section 60 who may have fought long ago (WWII) but also would be proud of your loved ones lost.

T. Russell said...

Karen...
I just saw Section 60 and googled to find out some more information about it and found your blog. Thank you for sharing your story. My heart breaks for your loss. As a school teacher, I often talk to the children about our soldiers, and their families, and the sacrifices they make. They are so young (3rd grade) that it is rare that we discuss the type of sacrifice you have had to endure. While watching the movie, I cried, but as I sat there I thought to myself..I will cry this one time..but those mom's...how much more will they cry? I pray that this will be the year that we bring our men and women home. That after this year, there will be no more tears for the same reason that you have cried.
Thank you for your honesty, your transparency, and your willingness to share your journey.