This was not the original post I had intended for today. Then I came across an article featuring young boys putting flags on the headstones of the soldiers at Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery and it felt appropriate, well, necessary really.
My fiancé proposed to me near a gazebo at an overlook of that cemetery. I remember people seeing the pictures and some really poor attempts to cover up their surprise as they balked as opposed to the more suitable salutations of celebratory joy. Engaged where?! A cemetery? Oh, how…interesting.
It was a clear day in January (the 19th, to be exact) when I wasn’t feeling so hot. Fiancé told me he wanted to get me out of the house for some fresh air; it might make me feel better. We ran some errands then it was time to head home. He took a “wrong turn” and ever the quintessential back-seat driver, I told him so. He let me know he knew where he was going and I remember him giving me this look. Words will not be able to describe it, but it was a look of love and like he knew something was coming. Of course, I couldn’t have told you that then. I will never forget it, though. It brings a smile to my lips recalling it.
We entered into Cabrillo National Monument, the site of Ft. Rosecrans Cemetery. This is also one of my favorite places in San Diego. If you have never seen it, here is one shot facing west that Fiancé took the day we got engaged:
He parked the car and we walked to the north side of the cemetery; the view of San Diego is phenomenal from there. He pretended to forget his phone in the car and said he wanted to take a picture so he ran to “go get it”. I was looking out at the view and he ran back and told me to pose for a picture. Unbeknownst to me, he was actually recording. He pulled out a little blue box and surprised me. He asked me a sort of inside question that only he and I would know. I said yes, and then he asked me to be his wife. I think we all know how that went /insert huge grin here. This is a screenshot I captured from the video:
A total surprise! You can see the shadow from the ring box here.
My father served this country for twenty-eight years in the United States Air Force. His father was 101st Airborne. His mom was a “Rosie the Riveter” who worked on B29’s. Both are buried together in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis. They met at a USO dance in Long Beach. My mom served as a spouse and my siblings and I served as BRATS.
The military is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. In some ways it betrays you. In other ways, when you grow up immersed in it, it is the most comfortable place in the world for you. It is the only home you know. It is your protection. No matter where you are, where you’ve been or where you will go, you are always linked to this guild of sorts. You are connected to all who served; the troops, the spouses and the children. And you didn’t have to know them, but you damn well respect those who gave the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country.
Silly perhaps, but I like to think the energies of those men and women, some of whom may have served alongside my father and grandfather, were smiling upon us that day. Among those fallen heroes I enthusiastically said yes to my sailor. I said yes to the sacrifices and fears that come along with being a Navy wife, and I said yes to the pride that only a military spouse can know. Maybe grandma and grandpa even stopped by for a visit.
Ft. Rosecrans is classic San Diego with its beauty and its views, yes. But for us it is much more. Being surrounded by our warriors who moved past this world could not have been a more beautiful place to get engaged. So yes, I got engaged in a cemetery. Any questions?
——————————————————————————————————— On this, Memorial Day, and every day, I want to acknowledge all of the parents, children, spouses and military personnel for their daily sacrifices. It is not easy and the entire country owes you a debt of gratitude. We also will never forget all of our fallen troops. May they live on in the memory of those who loved them and who continue to serve this country so that we continue to realize the freedoms so many others long for. They and you are truly heroes. Thank you.