29 2 mins 15 yrs

arlin.jpgHere’s a poignant image of what Arlington Cemetary looks like at the moment. This was sent to me by ATW reader and regular commentator Ernest Young.

I was there myself a few years ago now and was most impressed with the dignity, quietness and SHEER scale of the place.

Readers may be interested to know that these wreaths — some 5,000 — are donated by the Worcester Wreath Co. of Harrington, Maine. The owner, Merrill Worcester, not only provides the wreaths, but covers the trucking expense as well. He’s done this since 1992. A wonderful guy. Also, most years, groups of Maine school kids combine an educational trip to DC with this event to help out. Making this even more remarkable is the fact that Harrington is in one the poorest parts of the state.

As Ernest points out…

Arlington Cemetary at Christmas, and all done by a private enterprise – just to say thanks to the Armed Forces. It highlights some of the very different attitudes that prevail ‘over there’, that they treat their vets far better than we do in the UK is a given, but I could never see anything similar happening here!

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29 thoughts on “A CHRISTMAS IMAGE….

  1. I haven’t been to Washington that often, but each time I’ve gone I’ve gone across to Arlington. It is incredible. I always tell people who are going to Washington to visit Arlington.

  2. >>>Arlington Cemetary at Christmas, and all done by a private enterprise – just to say thanks to the Armed Forces. It highlights some of the very different attitudes that prevail ‘over there’, that they treat their vets far better than we do in the UK is a given, but I could never see anything similar happening here!<<<

    This has nothing to with Vets. And from what ive read the US doesnt treat its former warriors any better than the UK.




    British war graves are very well looked after. Ive been to Tyne Cot on Paschendale ridge and several others around Ypres, and they were all beautifully maintained.

  3. >>these wreaths — some 5,000 — are<<

    Generally, which servicemen are buried in these graves, does anyone know?

    Most servicemen are buried in thier family graves, I presume.

  4. DT,

    The war graves in France and Belgium are largely maintained by the locals, as a mark of their appreciation, the small amount that the War Graves commission spends is hardly sufficient to keep the grass mown..

    While the US vets are not treated in what may be called an A1 fashion, it is still far superior to anything the UK armed services receive.

  5. ‘that they treat their vets far better than we do in the UK is a given, but I could never see anything similar happening here!’

    From what Ive read I dont think the US treats its vets much better. Shame such a lovely image from a PRIVATE company tribute is used to have another poke at the Brits. I object to that -especially as someone who makes a point of proudly wearing a poppy each year, as do many.

    British war memorial *services* are far far superior, fantastic, reverent and poignant. Did you bother to watch any Ernest? The Royal Albert Hall is one example of British tribute. Moreover British war graves are extremely well looked after. Additionally New statues and memorials have been erected in Whitehall and along the Thames only this year and last – they are beautiful and well worth a visit.

    Only the other day I was reading a US perspective where a US woman asked ‘why cant the US copy the services done in Britain most especially for the servicemen as their war dead are received back into the country and given a ceremony from the moment they arrive’.

    Please dont use something like this to have a dig at the Brits Ernest. Whilst I agree Labour has pulled back on equipment and should be challenged – and especially on treatment – this is patently NOT a good illustration of differences at all. Graves are also beautifully maintained throughout Europe by the local people more often than not. ‘the dignity, quietness and SHEER scale’ of the places is also noteworthy there and the UK.

    Good grief

  6. Alison

    Hear hear!

    Ernest should take US citizenship and be done with it. He never has a good word to say for Britain.

  7. Glad someone else agrees! Speaking of Xmas tributes I wish I could find the striking image of Dutch children at a Canadian war memorial Xmas tribute (I cant recall the name of the town). On Xmas Eve they take candles and lay them on the graves of each of the 1000+ soldiers graves in a ceremony which they themselves initiated…to say ‘thankyou’.

  8. When I lived in Maine, we used to live down the road from Merrill Worcester, and my oldest daughter went to school with one of his sons. Small, small world.

  9. Alison, Peter, et al,

    I note your point(s). As a vet myself, I can assure you that the UK do not treat the ex-servicemen with very much respect. Most of the worthwhile services are offered by charities such as the British Legion, etc.

    With regard to our war memorials, – how many services were discontinued this year, to satisfy H & S and PC regs? quite a few I see…

    How many war memorials are regularly defaced? etc. etc. How many places do you see a Union Jack flying? – after all, that is the flag under which our troops serve.

    I can also assure you all, that the general respect for the military in the US is far more prevalent than here. Yes, of course, there are many here who do remember and offer thanks, not just on 11/11, but on a regular basis.

    Please bear in mind, this photo is at Christmas, not on Remembrance Day, – as I said – I have yet to see anything similar here, at this time…


    You quite correctly say that I have little to good to say about the UK, just why do you think that is? Could it just be that I things are maybe not quite so good as you imagine?

    I am, and have always been proud of GB, and have always believed that we had so much to offer – I hesitate to say ‘to the Rest of the World’, but certainly to those who are open to new ideas. I still think we have that ability, and I hate to see us fall so very far short of fulfilling that capability. It is all rather disappointing, as the school reports used to say; "Shows promise, but could do better!"

    Yes I am very critical of our politicians, of all parties, and especially of the destruction they have caused to our, albeit, unwritten constitution, our justice system, our education system, and indeed every aspect of our lives, and all in the name of a progressive agenda, which only they, and their cronies see in that light. The damage they are doing is not easily rectified,

    Getting a little more specific, I see that so much of the adverse changes are due to the ‘on-off-maybe’ relationship with the EU. Yes, I do think we are far too good to get tied to closely to them – as they say; ‘Play in the cesspit, you will end up smelling
    of c**p!’.

    I am also no fan of multi-culturism, which, incidentally I see as as very different from multi-racialism, nor am I a fan of political correctness.

    I love the differences between ‘here’ and ‘there’, and most of the time they are just differences, but sometimes they do, do things a bit better, and sometimes we do, but sadly, just lately those ocasions are pretty infrequent.

    If I am to be criticised for declaring that the Emperor has no clothes, then so be it…

    To both of you – I am glad that you are both so loyal to GB, but please do not let your loyalty blind you to the shortcomings…

  10. Ernest: Is it true that you have announced a plan to donate money to the family of the Unknown Soldier?

  11. Seriously though Arlington National Cemetery is a beautiful and historic spot. The graves of JFK and RFK are poignant, and are the rows upon rows. It is well tailored and a must see for anyone going to Washington D.C.

    We often treat our veterans better in death than in life which is a disgrace. I believe things are getting better in terms of services for them, but we certainly can improve on them.

    Incidently, my neighbors are two vets from World War Two (married since 1945 -she served in the WACs and he served in the marines.. They served in both Euopre and Asia during the war. They are in their eighties and far more active than my wife and I. They’ve corralled me into appearing as Santa Clause for their VFW post Christmas party this weekend for underprivileged kids (sadly no pillow needed to portray Santa). It just goes to show that while the Vets may not always be served by their community, they often continue to perform service for their community.

  12. Ernest – I got this far ‘I can assure you that the UK do not treat the ex-servicemen with very much respect’ and went no further. How dare you criticize the UK of that? Seriously your ignorance on this issue knows no bounds. If you wish to have a go at the government about specific issues then by all means do but dont sweepingly refer to the UK as one mass and of the people of this country as disrespectful of the sacrifices made by our servicemen.

    I have yet to see anything like the level of commemoration services carried out in the UK replicated in the US. We do them splendidly. ONE private Christmas tribute by an individual and you assume that we are disrespectful of our war heroes? Having walked up the Mall in 2005 with thousands upon thousands of private individuals paying tribute directly after the July 7 bombings and taken pride in watching the memorial services and the ones held every year I think your assertions absurd. Because a tribute isnt carried out on Christmas Day you come to an almightily prejudiced conclusion. Honestly your anti British attitude is sickening. Do you think any of the servicemen you might claim to be thinking of would show the same sourgrapes dismissal of the British commemoration services as you seem to? Does it matter when a tribute is paid Ernest? No. What matters is those who do care enough and there are plenty of them. Visit any of the memorials, attend the services and watch the respectful crowds before belittling them so self importantly.

    As for this

    To both of you – I am glad that you are both so loyal to GB, but please do not let your loyalty blind you to the shortcomings…

    I am highly critical of UK policy and shortcomings without resorting to the kind of sweeping nonsense you dip into regularly. Yes I AM proud to be British, as I expect are the troops giving their lives. Do you suppose they wallow in self loathing and project it the way you do. Im sure thats great for morale. You represent an element of Britishness that we cant get away from. The kind who claims to be ‘proud to be British’ but cant helping bemoaning its non existent demise with relish and relishing the kind of Brit bashing reserved normally for the rest of the world.

  13. Mahons,

    From what I understand, Santa may sue you for false representation. While he’s been avoiding the trans fats and working out twice a day, you’ve shunned the Bud Light for the Bud.

  14. I think the argument as to whether the US or Britain treats its veterans better is unresolvable. I’ve often watched those Remembrance Day ceremonies and been struck by how well the British do those ceremonies. And, they’re televised nationally, which does not happen in the US. I do think that today there’s a higher regard for the military in the US than in the UK, but I don’t live in either country so what do I know. That’s just my impression.

    And, I doubt any country, including Ireland, treats their veterans with the amount of respect they really deserve.

  15. Cunningham,

    Mahons may have more info than I have, but I think just about anyone who serves is eligible to be buried in Arlington. There are other military cemeteries across the country. In fact, this past summer I was at a brand new one that’s just opened in Saratoga County. One of my boyhood friends’ father was buried in it. He had served in the navy in WWII.

    And, if you choose not to be buried in Arlington or one of the military cemeteries you can still get the same headstone for wherever your plot is. I’ve seen a few in Ireland on graves of men who served with the US in WWI.

    Again, that’s how I believe it works, but I could be wrong.

  16. Eagle: I’ve resolved the litigation with Santa. He’s agreed to put you back on his list of good kids since I’ve agreed not to claim I am actually him.

  17. Eagle: I am not sure of the criteria and there have apparently been some waivers of the criteria (DEA agent in line of duty). An ongoing debate as to eligibility.

  18. Speaking of volunteers, my brother belongs to an organization that plays "Taps" at veterans burials. Playing Taps is becoming a lost art and beyond the purvue of the military, so musicians have banded together across America to give our vets a proper farewell. Since we have a national cemetary in Dallas, my bro stays busy. He’s even played at the burials of those killed in battle in the present conflict.


  19. Thats really lovely Charles


    The UK National Inventory of War Memorials is an on-line database.from which you can now search for information about some 53,000+ war memorials they have recorded so far in the UK.

    They worked in partnership with Channel 4 – one of their better ideas – on a project from November 11th lasy year called Lost Generation. A website dedicated to the research if the names of individual people commemorated on First World War memorials. You can visit it on line.

    Thought it might interest you to know that this work was entirely undertaken by members of the public – volunteers.

    ‘The information for both of these online databases has been supplied to the UKNIWM by *a large team of volunteers and members of the public, to whom we are extremely grateful for all the hard work they have done*’

    An incredible project which kind of flies in the face of your point ‘general respect for the military in the US is far more prevalent than here’.

    Is Cindy Sheehan respectful of her sons death would you say? Or milking it very publicly and with significant support.

  20. Alison,

    Sure the major events are beautifully stage managed, and that seems to be as far as it goes. Typically, big on presentation, small on fulfillment, how very modern!

    I am sure that the ordinary retired serviceman would rather have a big parade once in a blue moon, sixty years, in this case, than have a reasonable pension.

    "Such is the level of tribute paid not just in 2005 but with countless commemorations held every year in a similar fashion"

    Unless, of course they are not regulated almost to extinction by the Health & Safety regs. The much reduced Centotaph service is a shadow of what it once was but a few years ago.

    Recent events come to mind; Promises of special cash payments to troops on active duty, to later be obfuscated or withdrawn.

    Promises of citizenship to retired Ghurkas, later reneged on, and now the subject of an ongoing argument with the MoD.

    Not to mention the poor standards of equipment supply, nor the closure of military hospitals, at a time when the Forces have never been so busy since WWII, or their subsequent wait for physical and mental treatment on the NHS ‘waiting list’. The poor housing for married troops, the list goes on….

    Your last comment confirms my earlier statement that the majority of help comes from charitable organisations, i.e. volunteering individuals doing what they think is necessary – as with the guy at Arlington.

    I do think you are getting this debate totally out of proportion, from a simple observation you are trying to make ‘a mountain out of a molehill’. Does your concience so trouble you, that you have to fly into a red rage at any hint of criticism, even though the critcism was not aimed at you, nor over something that you have no particular control over.

  21. Ernest

    You cite a private volunteer and state it is typical of American attitude yet go on to rubbish the British publics own volunteer work. How comes?

    When people volunteer Ernest it is a personal contribution and valued wherever and however it occurs. You are a confused man. Why would you also rubbish fantastic events cherished by the veterans and attended by the public? This would be the public that acc to you doesnt care.

    If they are so crap why do so many attend and why do the veterans themselves go along?

    You go on to attack the government which is correct and Id agree with your observations. But really what is your point? Its very muddled. Is it the public tribute that sucks or the government Ernest? Because the wreaths are an example not of government but private contribution. And ive cited the same level of honour and tribute here through the Lost Generation prog.

    You like to believe the British public are all rubbish but they arent. Mostly I suspect because you cant help your anti British diatribe. Its you that needs to get things in proportion. It isnt the US government that is paying for the xmas wreaths. Just as it isnt the UK government conducting worthwhile support of the memorials programme I mentioned.

    …Arlington Cemetary at Christmas, and all done by a private enterprise – just to say thanks to the Armed Forces. It highlights some of the very different attitudes that prevail ‘over there’,…

    No it doesnt. It highlights one valuable personal contribution. Just as the personal contributions to the work undertaken on memorials in this country doesnt go unnoticed either, but noone stuck a photo up here. If you want an ‘in proportion debate’ then stick to attacking the governments shortcomings. And the photo as lovely as it is shoudnt be used to poke at the Brits when there are so many unhailed contributions made by the public all year round.

    Hows Cindy?

  22. Alison,

    Just where did I rubbish any British volunteer work? I said that they were the mainstay of support for many…

    No where did I say the British public were rubbish,those are your words…you make too many assumptions.

    Why don’t you take the trouble to actually read comments, instead of jumping in with both feet.

    I realise you are trying to be topical, and I daresay think that being controversial helps your cause, – it doesn’t.

    For starters, it is possible to disagree without being quite so aggresive, – passionate you may be about things, but that does not excuse rudery.

    Re Cindy – you two are so alike! different sides of the same coin of self publicity, and both delusional…

  23. Ernest – you give as good as you get.

    "Arlington Cemetary at Christmas, and all done by a private enterprise – just to say thanks to the Armed Forces. It highlights some of the very different attitudes that prevail ‘over there’, that they treat their vets far better than we do in the UK is a given, but I could never see anything similar happening here!"

    All done by private enterprise – meaning a voluntary act – which you then extend to ‘attitudes’ here. Ignoring the fact you refuse to acknowledge voluntary undertakings here as pointed out to you, you associate this with an attitude you maintain is prevalent which isnt. I think it is exceptionally RUDE to say this about the Brits attitude – you can only mean general public as this was a private gesture. The picture was sufficient on its own without you drawing such general parallels. You cant link this private gesture to government failures. Added to this you thumb your nose at the events we do here magnificently and which vets and public enjoy attending as a mark of respect. As Peter said you never have a good word to say about Britain. In this case it was both rude and unjust.

  24. A great picture is on the front page of today’s New York Times showing the wreth layers standing repectfully as a soldier’s remains pass by.

  25. Alison,

    Cool it please.
    Maybe Ernest is a bit negative, but he has served.
    And I do think the pensions issue is a complete disgrace.

  26. JOC

    Why should Alison ‘cool it’. From what I have read here , both she and Ernest are arguing their points in a passionate intelligent and well written style that has not descended into abuse but which retains admirable strength of feeling on both sides.

    Neither of them have oversteped the mark.

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