Ruth asked me when and where I feel most patriotic. I thought this over and told her that I feel most patriotic in national cemeteries. There are now 148 of them in 42 states and Puerto Rico. We have been to several, and I have written about most of them.
Our first exposure to the burial sites for men and women who died while serving in the US military during wartime or are veterans who have requested to be interred in a national cemetery was a visit to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. Situated in Punchbowl Crater above the city, this was a very moving experience. It was especially emotional after spending time at the Pearl Harbor Memorial. There are 34,000 graves in this location.
When our children were young, Ruth & I liked to visit my sister and her husband for the Fourth of July celebration. They lived in Arlington, VA at the time and worked in Washington, DC. We would join them at the famous Iwo Jima memorial sculpture at Arlington National Cemetery to watch the fireworks across the river. These were always affecting experiences. One year we were in Washington, DC by ourselves, and we attended the national telecast held near a fountain on the National Mall. This was also a patriotic highlight of our lives.
But our best experience related to patriotism occurred in Tahoma National Cemetery. This installation in Kent, WA is a gem among the 148, and we spent a lot of time learning how national cemeteries operate. The staff and volunteers here deal with almost daily entombments, mostly of veterans, and they were very gracious to Ruth & me. There were 46,000 humans buried there at the time of our visit and 3 funerals scheduled for that day. It was a very moving experience to visit here and write about it later.
When in New Orleans, we traveled to the Chalmette Battlefield and Cemetery in St. Bernard Parish. There are 16,000 veterans and service people from the War of 1812 through Viet Nam buried there. Adjacent to this cemetery is the place where the Battle of New Orleans which ended the War of 1812 was held. Because the battlefield is next to the Mississippi, most of the visitors had come to Chalmette via boat excursion from the city of New Orleans. This is a popular and moving day trip activity. We have also paid our respects at the Chattanooga National Cemetery where a lot of Civil War fighters were buried.