Friday, May 23, 2008
Recently, I attended the memorial service for the father of a friend of mine. I sat next to a woman I had not seen since high school. We were both there because we were lifelong friends of the bereaved daughter. All three Navy Brats, raised by Navy fathers, and though we are in our 50's now, the familiar trapping of a military burial brought back floods of memories and emotions.
The morning was an unseasonably cold, dark day for San Diego, as our small group of mourners climbed from our cars to walk to the outdoor pavilion where the military buries its own.
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery is a spectacularly beautiful site, located on Point Loma's awe-inspiring precipice. The south cliff looks out over the bay to San Diego's skyline and the island of Coronado and North Island. The north cliff looks out into the endless horizon of the Pacific Ocean, and though this side is often swathed in fog, on a clear day one can make out the ghostly shapes of the grey whales as they make their annual migration from Alaska to Mexico.
High on these cliffs are the graves of those who have served their country in every war since the Spanish American War of 1898. When you walk among them, a profound sadness takes hold. How many wars until we get it right? How many dead ?
When I was notified of my boyfriend's death in Viet Nam , so many years ago, I wandered this city in my car, eventually ending up here in the August twilight of that terrible afternoon, sobbing alone among the headstones. He like so many-- forever frozen in youth -- dead from a war that no one even likes to mention anymore.