A week ago I was walking casually through Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington Virginia when I made an unexpected discovery. Without any intention whatsoever, I ran across the gravestone of my Great Grandfather Augustus Fechteler. (pictured here) I was stunned.
I knew, of course, in a vague and abstract way that I had a great grandfather who was an Admiral in the US Navy, but I just was not expecting such concrete evidence at this particular moment.
It got me to thinking…
All of us have a past. It stretches out untold generations before we were born. Likewise…we all have a future. We may have children who will have children…but even if this is not the case we all have pieces of ourselves that continue on..long after we are no longer physically present. We leave traces of ourselves…always.
The truth of our enduring continuity as a ‘human” family strikes me this Memorial Day weekend as simple and yet incredibly profound. It reminds me that the totality of life extends way beyond my small occupancy in time and space.
I take comfort in this truth, and yet feel awed by a sense of responsibility to all who come after me. The beauty I see all around me is, after all, at least in part attributable to all of my ancestors.
I hope I can be worthy of this responsibility.
Thank you greatgrandfather Fechteler for your part in making my life possible