When I was a little girl, my father took me to Arlington National Cemetery.
We stood in the middle of a sea of gravestones, silent.
My small hand in his, we came to the Tomb of the Unknowns. With tears in his eyes, my father told me that these heroes names were lost to history. He explained to me why soldiers wear dog tags. In the distance, a flag-draped coffin was lowered into the ground- the latest addition to the silent neighborhood. Once, someone in this crowd laughed at a movie, or held hands with his girl, or patted the heads of her children. The flag, snugly folded into its triangular nest, was then handed to the next of kin.
We stood before JFK’s final resting place, with its flickering gas-lit torch.
The three of us, Bostonians.
“That flame never goes out,” my father said.
That night I pulled the covers up to my chin in the darkened bedroom and I thought of that flame forever burning; forever chasing shadows away. I drifted off to sleep comforted by the thought that no matter how dark it became- there in Arlington National Cemetery, a torch always burned.
That was many years ago. My father is gone now. . . but, still, the light remains.