In his new book dedicated to the sacrifice and honor of the U.S. Military, U.S. Senator Tom Cotton explores the Old Guard, their role in remembering the veterans we have lost, and he recounts with spectacular detail the ceremonial aspects of military life that awe us all. While Sacred Duty: A Soldier’s Tour at Arlington National Cemetery is definitely more interesting to people with a military interest than those without I believe everyone can read and appreciate what this book has to offer.
While I have older families members who have served, I don’t have an immediate connection to the military. No brothers, fathers, sisters, cousins, serving that I think about and worry about daily. And yet, I’m still in awe of what is expected of our military men and women and how they rise to the challenge. This book is a heartbreaking reminder of the losses our countrymen face and the great care their fellow soldiers go to to remember them. Visiting Arlington Cemetary is a must for all Americans, I truly believe that, but this book goes deeper into the history of what they do there and the Old Guard who do many military funerals every week.
The idea of military funerals breaks my heart even though I’ve never been to one, and I was amazed at the care that goes into them, per Cotton’s recounting of the planning, training, and reverie of each one, even when you’re doing four a day or a dozen a week. Each one is special, which is a really touching thought. Yes, there are the sad, but thankfully less frequent, combat deaths, but Cotton also talks about the death of veterans who survived combat and lived full lives and died of old age. Yes, their funeral is a mourning of their loss, but also a celebration of their life.
One of the main reasons I wanted to read this book was to learn more about the process of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Cotton never performed this task as part of his time with the Old Guard, but he interviewed and followed a man who performed the sacred ceremony around the most famous tomb in the country, maybe the world. The number 21 is central to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and in his chapter titled The Unknowns, Cotton walks through not only the history of the tomb and its relationship with World War I and other wars since, but also the methodical ceremony around the Tomb and why the men selected for that task deserve so much awe. It’s a beautiful thing to watch, and learning more about it history was great for someone like me who loves to learn the meaning behind things.
This book is jam-packed wiht heartfelt stories of service and sacrifice and will only increase the reverence you have for our men and women in uniform, so I highly recommend it.
Sacred Duty by Tom Cotton is on sale wherever books are sold.