I suppose that is a valid reason. After all, that simple statement is the reason we have tried lots of our new experiences. But, a cemetery? I could only think of all the reasons I didn’t want to take my kids to a cemetery. First of all, one of them gets vivid nightmares just from watching Scooby Doo. Cemeteries bring all kind of spooky images to mind. Second, I worried that they would have lots of questions about death and dying. Of course, we have discussed death before, but it is such a hard topic to explain to children when I hardly understand it myself. The last (and the most selfish) reason I didn’t want to go to a cemetery is that I’d really rather do something more fun!
But, my children have been amazingly excited about all the new experiences that I have introduced. They have gotten out of their comfort zone and spent time trying things that they didn’t think would be much fun. Surprisingly, they enjoyed just about everything we tried. So, I figured I’d indulge Luke and take the kids to a cemetery for New Experience #40.
But, I wasn’t going to take them to just any old cemetery. If we were going to visit a cemetery, we might as well go to one of the most well-known cemeteries in the country. Luckily, my sister lives right outside of Washington, D.C., so when we visited her this weekend, we took a side trip to Arlington National Cemetery.
My brother-in-law’s grandfather is buried at Arlington, so we first paid our respects at his gravestone. My children remember the man as a very old, but happy and kind-hearted person. I don’t think either of my children ever imagined him as a younger man. Luke was impressed to learn that his uncle’s grandpa served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He said, “Wow, I didn’t know he was a hero.”
We took a short drive to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier where we watched a sentry take 21 steps, turn and face the tomb for 21 seconds, and repeat the process over and over. It is a very solemn place, and my children were very respectful. Leah watched intently and liked how the man clicked his shoes together. When it was time to leave, Luke stalled a bit. “Mom, I want to stay for the show!” he whispered. I don’t know what he expected the sentry to do next, but he thought something more exciting had to happen soon. Once I assured him that nothing else was going to happen, we left quietly.
We marveled at how straight the rows of headstones were. We talked about how many servicemen and women have died protecting our freedom. We walked back to our car feeling more patriotic than when we had arrived. I have to admit, I enjoyed New Experience #40 more than I thought I would.