I've been watching ole' man willow for some weeks now. Last week he started putting on some green, the first sign of spring coming. Today the daffodils are up, the dogwoods and cherry blossoms are in full bloom, in general an all around beautiful spring day. By afternoon the sun was out and it was warming up. A wonderful day to be doing ceremonies in the cemetery.
I had two funerals today. My first was a full honors ceremony with a fly over by 1st Heli out of Andrews. I always enjoy hearing their birds come over as they practice their runs up and down the Potomac. Today was the first time I've had them do a flyover for a ceremony. This ceremony was also quite special not only because of the noble character of the individual we were honoring but because of the privilege of doing the ceremony with our Air Force Chief of Staff.
This afternoon was a much smaller ceremony but no less important, as a daughter and her children laid to rest a beloved mother and grandmother.
My time at Arlington has taught me and reminded me of many things: service, valor, honor, sacrifice, memory -- but not least among the things I've learned is that at the end of the day, when labor is done and recognition is past, ribbons and medals have faded, and time calls for us to journey onward -- that which is greatest the testimony of all is the love that shines in the eyes and remains in the hearts of our family and friends.
I will miss Arlington and the incredible privilege it is to serve these heroes and their families of our great nation when it comes time to move on.
I will be moving on. Soon. I am in my last months here. New challenges and new places of service await, but who I am will always be shaped in part by my last two years here.