By Kevin Lo, College ‘16
There might not be a more definitive display of service than enlisting in the armed forces. There’s also not much that could be done to accurately show the gratitude that we (or at least the gratitude that we should) have. A simple act of laying wreaths is, quite honestly, the least any of us could do.
On December 14th, a group of brothers went to the Arlington National Cemetery to pay our respects to those who so diligently and selflessly served our country. We met at 8:30 at President Hamblin’s house and together drove to the cemetery. After arriving (it was, somewhat shamefully, my first visit to the cemetery), it was incredible to digest the sheer size of the grounds—to internalize the numerous generations of individuals who served.
Before the wreath laying commenced, we ventured to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Again, being completely new to the cemetery, I did not really know what the tomb represented. After learning of its meaning, I just thought about the pain that one must have felt to never learn of a loved one’s fate in battle.
Soon after, the organizers of Wreaths Across America distributed the wreaths and an incredible movement covered the grounds. Solemnly walking towards each gravestone, one sees the wars in which each individual fought. Some were simply unbelievable. There were numerous soldiers who fought in multiple wars, with some fighting in three, from WWI to WWII to the Korean War. A simple wreath does none of this justice, but it was the very least we could do to say that we will never forget.
Of course, none of this was done for self-serving reasons, but, the day did offer something extremely valuable aside from the deep appreciation we all felt for the fallen. In the midst of finals, the day provided solitude and an opportunity to think beyond ourselves. In a period in which we are almost only thinking about achieving the best grades we can achieve in order to try to get a better job, salary, and future, a thinking beyond the self offers wonderful perspective.
Like those who fought, we should understand ourselves as a part of a much bigger collective. This applies to our fraternity (in which a new Sigma can as easily voice his opinion as can an older Epsilon) and, of course, to life. As citizens of such a privileged country and, more specifically, university, we should strive to be—like Georgetown alum Brit Marling said so beautifully said this past May—to be men and women for others in all fields of work we seek. It might never be as selfless as those who served in the armed forces, but we can at least try.