Weekend in Washington D.C.

Entering Arlington National Cemetery

I could have wished for better circumstances surrounding our weekend trip to Washington D.C., but I certainly couldn’t have wished for better weather or better company.

My parents and I completed the 6.5-hour drive there and back this weekend in order to attend a funeral service for my great aunt, Kazuko, who recently passed away. The service and burial took place at Arlington National Cemetery where my uncle, John, is interred.

We met my cousins and one of their family friends there the day before to have some time together and then attended the service and took in the cemetery before parting ways. They are from Texas and wanted to stay a little longer, but my parents and I needed to get back to Ohio so we could all be at work the next day.

The service was very fitting for my aunt; simple, direct and meaningful. As she was not a servicewoman, but the spouse of a veteran, her service was shorter and more simple than the full service veterans typically receive. I was glad of that. It seemed more like her.

The weather was beautiful so I tried to take a number of pictures to capture how lucky we were that the service was held that morning. The temperature was mild, the sun was peeking through the clouds and the cherry blossoms were starting to appear on some of the trees.

Memorial service for Kazuko
John and Kazuko McConkey

Everyone was in need of a little time so we broke into groups to search out other family members, visit the Kennedy memorial, the Custis-Lee mansion and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

There were a number of school groups wandering around, and I was pleased that the students, mostly high school age, were being respectful and quiet. It was nice to just walk around and see the different statues, memorials, markers, etc.

In addition to the trees beginning to bud, some flowers were starting to blossom and birds were hopping around and making noise. It seemed like the perfect time to experience new life and take some of our thoughts away from the difficulty of dealing with the death of our loved one.

The Kennedy memorial was nice– we saw markers for John, Jackie, Robert and Edward– as were some of the surrounding fountains. We wandered around the main road and made our way up the hill to see the cemetery as well as the monuments downtown from the top. It was a beautiful view of the skyline with the Washington Memorial right in the middle. Also at the top of the hill was the Custis-Lee mansion so we decided to step inside and tour it briefly before heading down.

As we came back down the hill, we headed toward the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We arrived right at 11 a.m. in time to watch the changing of the guard as well as the changing of the floral marking. Both ceremonies are interesting to watch– the honor and distinction is so apparent and not something you see often in today’s society. It’s very touching.

We left the tomb and walked back passed the Administration Building, where we had waited for instructions on Kazuko’s service, to the Visitor’s Building to meet up with the rest of our family. They found the other sites they had hoped to find, and we all decided to head into the city for a late lunch before we started back to Ohio.

I look forward to visiting D.C. again soon, under happy circumstances, but knowing I have two loved ones there waiting for my visit.

View from the hill
Kennedy memorial
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Family and friends

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