I don’t generally go to barbecues or the beach or whatever it is that people tend to do on Memorial Day, in large part because, well, my dad was in the Air Force from before I can remember until I got out of college–I knew too many people in the military to feel like a day meant to honor the fallen was a day you could really devote to fun.
Monday was, perhaps, a bit more present than most, though. Partly, of course, it’s that we’re currently embroiled in a war whose pointlessness seems surpassed only by its continuing brutality and assault on the humanity of those participating.
But I also watched a National Geographic special on Arlington National Cemetery.
While some of it was about the history of the cemetery, there was also a lot of material about the guards there, and what they go through and how they feel about their duties–they’re pretty intense about it, if you couldn’t guess–and another organization, “the Arlington Ladies”:http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/anc-lady.htm.
And _that_ really got to me.
It’s hard for me to say without irony–because Irony is The Modern Condition, and I am Deeply Afflicted–but in my yoga classes the instructor will talk about keeping your actions life-affirming. Now sometimes this is even said with a little irony: “So you might ask yourself if it is life-affirming to stay one more second in chaturanga dandasana?”
(Given that the question is often presented after you’ve been there for five seconds or more, the answer is often, “No.”)
But still, there’s a lot of seriousness in it, too, and it’s not just about yoga, it’s ultimately about how you live your life, and considering how the actions you take and the decisions you make play out.
But that’s all a digression, really, because what got to me was the fact that there was this virtually unknown corps of women who took it as their duty to affirm the lives of every one of the people buried there–to be present when they are buried, so that none will go to rest unmourned.
It’s things like this that make me think there may be hope for humanity after all.