Every year on Memorial Day we remember the men and women who have died while serving our country in the U.S. Armed Forces.
From the piece:
I lost my cousin Dave—Pfc. David H. Sharrett II, who was in the 101st Airborne Division—when he was killed by friendly fire in Balad, Iraq. That was my introduction to Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery and what it means, the tears that are shed there and the family members and friends who come back to visit those who are buried there.
I started noticing the tops of the tombstones in 2010, as I covered active-duty casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery for The New York Times, when I was an intern in the Washington bureau. It was always a somber assignment, and every time I was there I would notice something different on the headstones. At Christmastime there would be wreaths on almost every headstone, and around Memorial Day and the Fourth of July there would be American flags.
On Memorial Day and Veterans Day there would be a lot more people, families and friends of the military personnel buried there, and there would be more mementos and trinkets left—tokens that would evoke memories that were sentimental to the person buried there or the visitor. They ranged from predictable things like flowers or their unit insignia to the less predictable, like childhood toys, a half-finished bottle of Jack Daniels or a candy bar.
There’s more to these stories than just the names and dates inscribed on the front of the headstones.