The tears began to roll down my cheek as I placed the last flower that my son and I had brought over, on the grave. Twelve inches away from the tombstone, with the flower facing right and the stem facing left. I took one step back, gave a salute, and read the name out loud, “Faustino H. Ramos.” It hit me hard.
These were real people, who fought and died for our freedom. They had a family, and a life unfulfilled. I looked over at my son who was also teary eyed, and said, “How are you feeling?” “Kind of sad,” he said, the tears finally dropping down from his eyes onto his face. I held him and we hugged and cried together for a minute. It was an unexpected moment at Miramar National Cemetery this morning that I will never forget, and although this weekend is also full of fun and relaxation for many, I wanted my son to remember it always as a day for remembering those who we have lost.
We were invited earlier this month by the Boy Scouts of America to participate in the Memorial Day Flowers Placement Service Project. It sounded like a great way to be able to explain to kids why exactly Memorial Day is celebrated. Memorial Day in San Diego is filled with celebration and remembrance.
There are many parties and events, as well as serious moments and ceremonies. Memorial Day is a federal holiday reserved for remembering those who have died while serving in the country’s armed forces. It is not to be confused with Veterans Day, which is a day to celebrate the service of all U.S. military veterans. (Then there is Armed Forces Day, which celebrates those who are currently celebrating in the U.S. military.)
Miramar National Cemetery is a 313-acre cemetery that currently has over 6,800 graves of U.S. military veterans who have lost their lives. Some of the most notable of those buried here are Charles Schroeter, who immigrated to the United States in 1860 and became a career soldier who was awarded the Medal of Honor during the Indian Wars, and Lee R. Scherer, Jr., who received a commission from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1942 and in World War II flew aircraft carrier-based fighter planes, among many others.
More than 2,600 people are buried here each year, making it the 14th busiest site in the National Cemetery Administration portfolio. Being on the grounds in person today, it was clear to see how expansive the site really was, and it was easy to become emotional seeing that many graves. As we walked back to the car, we saw many other military members and civilians alike coming to place flowers at the graves and pay their respect. We felt so grateful to be alive, and happy to be heading home to our warm house and loving family members. If you get the chance to go up to Miramar National Cemetery, make sure to take it! And if you’re home celebrating this weekend, or traveling, stay safe and remember to cherish all those around you!
A few years back we wrote an article about actives going on in San Diego over the Memorial Day Weekend holiday, (read it here) and I am sure many of these places are having similar parties this year! Whether you get out to the beach, or to one of the many fantastic hotels this weekend, enjoy San Diego for all it’s worth and never forget those who died for our freedom. Happy Memorial Day weekend!