To Emerson's family:)
Oh God thank you for sending this to me. I am a semi retired 59 yr old
father of two grown sons. I have been going to Arlington National Cemetery
section 60 since 2004. I have an old stone farm house in Bangor PA on 17
acres (next to the Appalachian mountain trail N/S) but came to VA to help my
1/2 brother get a home and help him fix it etc. I use to go to ANC honestly
as a tourist but in 04 I started going to section 60.
I need to share this with you. I started attending many funerals of these
fallen heroes from this war. I started meeting many families and have been
doing so many favors for them because they live so far from ANC etc. I get
letters/notes/emails/books etc from them and I take them over to ANC and I
read them. I go to ANC three to five days a week. I never share any of the
contents of any letters etc with anyone except the loved one and I shred
these items when I get home with the exception of the books I mail them back
etc. In the warmer weather I always bring a number of carnations over and
share them each time I go. I continue to this day in fact today Thursday I
am getting ready now to head over to ANC. I make it very clear that what I
do over at ANC is for our fallen heroes and not about ME!!
I have gotten to know many of the honor guard/admin staff/grounds
crews/security etc.....and they me. I don't consider myself as a religious
person. (Church person). I do firmly believe in God and in Jesus etc.....I
love the Lord but I just am not faithful in church attendance. To me God is
everywhere and I see God in all things. I am happier if a church service
was held outside etc….
When you sent me Emerson’s link/web site I wanted to share this with you.
When I signed his guest book like I do with each one I place one hand on my
heart and the other on their name or picture and I pray. As I did that I
began to cry and I cried for quite a while. Usually to me that is a sign of
just how special he is. I also don't feel crying is a sign of weakness but
that of a caring sole and I truly care. Deep inside of me I thought there
was more. Each time I am at ANC I always go around and burn incense and I
just felt something inside of me. I remember going over to William Long and
Larry Phillippon site and I sat with them for awhile. While I am at ANC in
60 I go around to each fallen hero from this war and there are now over 322
buried there and I visit/honor each one. I knew Larry and William from
being at ANC all the time. They were honor guards there.
It took some time for me to realize that I actually met Emerson at ANC. One
very hot humid summer day I was out in the field going around reading
letters etc and I had this spray bottle and a small brush in my hand. This
man in uniform came up to me. I though he was there to visit a fallen buddy
etc. I went to another row so he could have his space and privacy etc…he
came up to me and said he sees me here often and asked me what I was doing
with the spray bottle and brush……I put my head down and said “the birds are
busy and I am cleaning the headstones” I did say “the birds really don’t
mean any disrespect to these fallen heroes” (sometimes visitors that don’t
have any family there will sneak dogs into the cemetery and they go around
doing business on the stones and I will go after them and remind them how
disrespectful that is and how that dishorners these heroes) I remember this
man saying we see you here all the time and we see what you do here and I
just want to say thank you sir for what you do here to honor the fallen. I
began to cry and I remember saying “oh no sir, I honor you for your service
and for what you do” He lifted my head and hugged me and said thank you…he
said he was an honor guard there and he said I have to get going……..Oh God
it was Emerson…. I saw his picture and remember him now!!! I remember as
he was walking away from me I said sir, thank you for what you do here to
help each of us.
As I said I make it very clear that what I do over at ANC is not about me.
I have gone been invited by the honor guard to go horse back riding with
them and in turn I invite many of them to come to our home for a home cooked
meal and just to get away from base for the weekend. I also have taken many
of the brothers/buddies that come to visit their fallen buddy’s home with
me. They are on a two week leave and came there first and didn’t have a
place to stay.
As I said I make it clear that what I do at ANC isn’t about me there is only
one selfish thing that I ask for and that is from God. All I want is that
one day when my name is called all I want from God is to have these fallen
heroes there that day. I don’t care about anything else I have been taught
or believe about in heaven I don’t want them all I want is to see these
fallen heroes. I firmly believe that God will grant that. I know one day
you all will get to see Emerson and I now believe that I too will see him.
I know I am going to get my butt kicked for crying, but I not only cry here
for them I will cry tears of joy that day too when I meet them.
Know that from the most inner part of my heart I am so sorry Emerson was
taken from each of you and also know that he will NEVER be forgotten.
Thank you for sharing that site with me. It wouldn’t have registered with
me because I meet so many people and so many of the guard can not speak
etc….Wasn’t sure because Emerson was very quiet/quick with his comments to
me. To me going around wiping bird droppings off of the stones was just
something that I do out of respect to these heroes and then to have someone
like Emerson actually come over and say this to me was truly and honor.
Emerson has a special place in my heart. . . . .so the part about the butt kicking I know he is going to kick my butt
for crying for him. I have grown to love all of these kids.
Take care and I just can't tell you how much this meant to me.