Memorial Day at Arlington

Arlington, 2014IMG_0196Don’t know about you but Memorial Day caught me by surprise this year. It still feels like it should be this upcoming weekend rather than the one just passed.
This is the first Memorial Day in a good seven years that Mary Kay and I did not travel to Washington, D.C.
Since we were first invited by our friend John P. Cosgrove to spend the holiday in the nation’s capital, I’ve said and written that Washington is the only place to be on Memorial Day.
From Rolling Thunder’s “Ride of Freedom,” with more than 100,000 bikers parading on Constitution Avenue (there were more than 300,000 in 2008), to ceremonies at the World War II Memorial near the Washington Monument (Nancy Sinatra was the honored guest a few years ago), to the ceremony at the Navy Memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue (we’ve met Ernest Borgnine there, several Miss Americas, Pat Sajak, and “Buzz” Aldrin. I still marvel that I shook the hand of a man who walked on the moon), to the annual concert on the lawn of the Capitol (B.B. King headlined one year), to the Memorial Day Parade (where we always meet and chat with actors Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna), to the solemn moments at Arlington National Cemetery, Memorial Day in Washington is a continuous series of thrills, goosebumps, lumps in the throat and out-and-out tears.
Most of the latter two take place at Arlington, where beginning with Memorial Day, 2011, we’ve paused to honor Dale Kridlo, son of our good friend and high school classmate Al Kridlo. Dale was killed in action in Afghanistan in November of 2010. He is buried in legendary Section 60, “Where Heroes Rest,” as it is termed.
The thing we missed most this year was our visit with Dale. A year ago, Al could not make it so I took this video with my phone and sent it to him.
Last year Mary Kay and I walked to Arlington from the Willard Hotel, near the White House. It was a pleasant stroll past the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial and over the bridge to Arlington. When we got to Section 60, a CNN truck was there. No surprise since the President often visits Section 60.
We saw CNN correspondent Barbara Starr setting up for a live report but when we tried to take her picture, she ducked out of sight. That didn’t bother me in the least. “We didn’t come here to see Barbara Starr,” I said to Mary Kay. “Or Barack Obama for that matter. We came to visit Dale Kridlo.”
And that’s what we did. With the special mission and honor last year of also representing his dad.

Ed Ackerman