Sunday, May 29, 2011

Thank You Frank

Every May, we get a three-day weekend to spend enjoying the start of summer with our family and friends. In between trips and activities, we spend little time thinking about the real reason for Memorial Day. It is a day for Americans to reflect on the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have served our country and sacrificed their lives for our freedom and liberty.

I didn't know Elmo W. Snowden of Kentucky or Nicholas Lee Natzke of Wisconsin. Both are buried in Arlington National Cemetery and their tombstones appear in this photograph taken last Memorial Day weekend. I'm sure they were great service members who were dedicated to protecting our freedoms and borders. Besides their military service, Elmo and Nicholas were most likely someone's husband, father, brother, son, and/or friend.

While I do know much about Elmo or Nicholas, soon I'll personally know someone whose name will appear on a tombstone here in Arlington. Frank W. Beach, Jr. was a gentle, sweet man who worked in my apartment building at our front desk. He passed away last weekend at the age of 90 after suffering a stroke. A military veteran who served in World War II and the Korean War, he will soon rest at Arlington among the other distinguished Americans who are interred there. I loved Frank's kindness; he often buzzed the door open for me, especially when I had packages in hand, so I wouldn't have to juggle with my keys, and always greeted me with a hello, a smile and a wave.
 This Memorial Day, I've added a new name to my growing list of Americans I admire for their service and sacrifices for our country. Thanks Frank from a grateful nation. I'll miss seeing you, but look forward to visiting you at Arlington National Cemetery. Now that I've learned that you loved photography as much as I do (I'm sorry we didn't get to discuss this in person!), I promise to visit and photograph your final resting place and keep it here on this blog and in my heart always.

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