Make Memorial Day Personal

05.26.08 | 4 Comments

We live close to the Golden Gate National Cemetery, which is located at the intersection of I280 and I380 in San Bruno. The image below shows the view from above.

Aerial View of Golden Gate National Cemetery
Aerial view of Golden Gate National Cemetery
Attribution: Google Maps

Golden Gate National Cemetery is a 160 acre facility and presently inters 138,542 people and is not honoring new requests for interment. It is one of 125 such facilities around the US.

View looking east from the flag mound
View of Golden Gate National Cemetery looking east from flag mound
Attribution: Mike Harding

When visiting the cemetery, there are numerous roads that wind through the facility. The next photo was taken facing south about half-way down Plaza Drive.

View looking south from the middle of Plaza Drive
View of Golden Gate National Cemetery looking south from Plaza Drive
Attribution: Mike Harding

Finally, I decided to select one grave at random. From Plaza Drive I walked into the cemetery and took a photo of Second Lt. Bert E. LaRue’s headstone, visible below.

Second Lt. Bert E. LaRue’s headstone
View of Golden Gate National Cemetery, Second Lt. Bert E. LaRue's headstone
Attribution: Mike Harding

When I returned home, I decided to see what I could discover about Lt. LaRue. It turns out that he served with distinction in the Pacific theatre of operations during World War II. He was a participant in the Battle of Leyte in the Philippines and was awarded the Silver Star for bravery in action. A quote from the son of one of the men in LaRue’s unit, “He was always at the front with his men. He was my father’s platoon leader.” When looking at the date of his death, April 11, 1945, I was struck that he almost made it through the war, hostilities ended in August, 1945. I couldn’t find details about Lt. LaRue’s family or what his life was like before the war.

It’s one thing to remember the sacrifice that our service men and women have made, it’s another to actually experience it, to be surrounded in one area by nearly 140,000 casualties. To be able to select a soldier at random and find some of the specifics behind their service. Suffice to say, I am thankful for the service and sacrifice of people like Bert LaRue. To all of our veterans and their families, thank you.