Friday, May 28, 2010

Arlington National Cemetery, Section 60, May 28, 2010

I wasn't sure I would be able to visit Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery before Memorial Day this year, but I just came from there.

I was taking a cab to my hotel in Crystal City from the American Gold Star Mother's headquarters over near some embassies. On a whim, I asked my cab driver to stop at ANC. I have a pass, so it's easy to drive onto the grounds; the guards pass you right through, because they know that people who have a pass earned it the hard way by having a loved one buried at our national cemetery. The cab driver seemed overwhelmed with Arlington, at the massive size and number of white stones so symmetrically arranged; he had never visited. I realized I had never been to Ken's grave alone, so this visit was special to me, too.

Section 60 was fairly empty, much different than it will be on Monday. The flag-in ceremonies had taken place on Thursday, in preparation of this oh so important American holiday, a small American flag waving proudly in front of each headstone. The humidity was stifling and memories of Ken overwhelmed me. Why was his name on a headstone? WHY? It's been 6 years and you would think that I would get used to it, but I haven't. I know for certain I never will, no matter how many years pass.

The irony of Ken's death on Memorial Day isn't lost on me; it could have happened any other day. 1Lt Ken Ballard loved being a soldier serving his country. I hope those who knew Ken or who learned about him since his death, will take a minute on Memorial Day, to remember Ken and honor his service, as well as those who fell before him.


Treasa said...

Thinking of you Karen on this special but sad weekend. I wish I could have been at ANC this weekend. My daughter in law and grandkids will be there. Maybe next year. :)

Proud GS Mom
Tsgt Phillip Myers USAF

Wolfgang Peter May said...

Yes, I can certainly understand your grief. During the end of World War II my mother, grandmother, and I stood on a small hill, only 10 kilometers from Dresden, watching so many wonderful people being burned alive. After I served as the Intelligence Operations Officer for our 4th US Armored Division in Goeppingen, Germany, I foolishly volunteered as Advisory Team Leader in Vietnam. Before I went to the Jungle School in Panama, and almost immediately began my "career" as Advisory Team Leader, my father took me to an area in our house where my mother could not listen to our conversation. There, my father warned me to take care of the men serving under my command. It appears that his German Officers always took the biggest risks themselves, and if I could not follow their lead, not to return to his household. One year later, I told him that all of my men had returned safely from Vietnam, and my father smiled for the first time since my departure. By the way, my blog, and poem is at thewararoundus, and it links directly to my huge web site, where there is also a kind word from the late Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia.

Anonymous said...

I am an american soldier, I am very sorry for your loss. Many brave soldiers from around the world have lost their lives. That being said, Honor your brave son by staying patriotic in this tough time for the WORLD and as an American defender im sure your son wouldnt want to be made a Martyr for your crusade. Mourn your son like every other mother that has lost a son or daughter, and continue to live your life. Im sorry if that seems insensitive but I have a friend that lost his sight and a wife do to this war and he wouldnt change a thing He is proud to have served his country. In closing support the troops dont make us have to get on the internet and read this stuff

Gold Star Mom Speaks Out said...

Anonymous, Thank you for your service. I'm not quite sure what your point is. It is patriotic to question your government if you don't agree with it. additionally, it isn't your place to determine the level of my patriotism.

I do support the troops; I want them ALL home safely. We need to get out of Afghanistan and Iraq; we never belonged in either.

Finally, I know hundreds of Gold Star Mothers; we all mourn and grieve differently.

Please be safe, wherever you re.

Adrienne said...

Just wanted to let you know that I visited Ken a couple of days ago and said hello for you too. Love you.