Last Sunday morning, the day before Memorial Day, I headed out early-early to get some photographs. I first headed down to Quantico Marine Corps Base, then headed into DC. Arlington did not open its gates until 0800, and since I got in the area around 0715, I headed over to the Iwo Jima US Marine Corps Memorial over in Rosslyn.
I was there perhaps 15 minutes when another man showed up, taking some photos on his Canon Sureshot, We were the only two there that morning at that particular time.
He came over towards me and said "Impressive", gesturing to the huge monument. "As it should be for the US Marines", I replied.
Turned out he was the father of a US Marine killed in Iraq in 2005. The father was there at the Iwo Jima memorial to meet up with a bunch of Marines, either from his son's unit or associated with it, who were celebrating their Memorial Day by running to the memorial from Richmond.
We exchanged a few more pleasantries - t'was an absolutely brilliant morning highlighted by the occasional roar of a group of hogs and the like heading over to the Pentagon North Parking for the Rolling Thunder assemblage.
The hour was approaching 8am, so I bade the gentleman well, we shook hands (about as strong a handshake as I have felt of late) and I headed back to my truck. As I was driving out, something was nagging at me. I had forgotten something, but didn't really know exactly what.
Then it hit me. I circled around on the approach way to the Memorial, pulling up on the side. The father was still there, still looking at the giant memorial.
"I'm sorry sir. One more thing", I said "What was your son's name"?
"Jourdan. Jourdan Grez", he replied.
"Jourdan Grez. Thank you. I will remember him".
Later that morning, in section 60, Plot 3614, I was able to pay my respects to LCpl Jourdan Grez in person. Rest in peace, Marine, and this entire nation thanks you for your sacrifice. Your father is keeping your memory alive, Lance Corporal. Semper Fi.
Mr. Grez, should you ever chance to read these words, it was an honor meeting you sir. Thank you.