Sunday, June 02, 2019

A Book for the Season

“Show me the manner in which a nation cares for its dead and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender mercies of its people, their respect for the laws of the land, and their loyalty to high ideals.”

In between Memorial Day and Flag Day, coming up June 14, or perhaps by Independence Day on July 4, there's time enough to read Sen. Tom Cotton's fascinating book, Sacred Duty: a Soldier's Tour at Arlington National Cemetery. There is so much to learn within its pages.

In a past job, I was fortunate enough to work closely with a decorated Vietnam veteran who had once served as a member of the Old Guard, the military regiment that serves at Arlington. He shared with me a very small piece of what Senator Cotton's book explores in detail. For example, in answering one of my questions, my U.S. Army veteran coworker explained how the soldiers serving at a military funeral know the exact moment to begin folding the flag in perfect unison. 

For a more brief summary of the Old Guard's duties, read Senator Cotton's recent speech at Hillsdale College in Michigan. It's packed with little-known facts about both the Old Guard and what has been fittingly called our "national shrine," Arlington National Cemetery. Both the book and the synopsis are so worth reading--and remembering.