25 May 2009

Arlington National Cemetery

An article from CNN yesterday caught my eye:

Mementos adorn 'saddest acre'

More than flowers adorn the graves in Section 60. Visitors of all faiths have picked up the ancient Jewish tradition of leaving a small stone on the headstones to show that a visitor had been to the grave. In most cases these are pebbles found near the grave. But some people have taken to leaving colored glass beads or elaborately painted stones with shamrocks or words like "hero."

Capra recently found a small Yoda figure on her husband's grave. She doesn't know who left it, but it must have been a friend, because her husband loved "Star Wars."

"We never know who puts stuff" on the headstone, she said.

Some mementos leave one to wonder about the story behind them. Like the headstone topped by a tiny bottle of Tabasco hot sauce. Or a set of dog tags with a name that didn't match the name on the headstone.

There is another topped by a small Lego toy, perhaps left by a child whose father died in a far-off land before they even knew each other. Or the grave adorned with an empty bottle of Bud Light, a rubber duck and a candle.

Nearby an empty Wild Turkey bottle is the lone addition to the grave of a soldier who died in a country where drinking alcohol is strictly forbidden.

Capra has found a variety of items on Tony's headstone.

"Coins, lots of rocks, candy. My husband was a candy freak," Capra said. "There was a cross. A little necklace, Mardi Gras beads during Mardi Gras season. Anything they have they'll put on top to show that they are thinking about them at the time."

Alexander seems to draw strength from the items she finds.

"Someone came and did a picture of Lee, and it was a hand-drawn picture. I thought that was very interesting," she said.


"People who haven't been seen in years will leave a note of some sort. It's nice to know that you've been remembered after all of this time. To know that we have friends who still love and support us, that is just wonderful."

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