Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis was seen on Veterans Day walking among the tombstones at Arlington National Cemetery and speaking to friends and families of fallen service members.
Mattis was walking along Section 60, a newer part of the cemetery where some of the most recent fallen service members are laid to rest. Section 60 is the part of the cemetery where those killed in the Global War on Terrorism are laid to rest.
One man, who identified himself as a soldier, David Brown, wrote in a Facebook post about how he witnessed Mattis walking the tombstones at the section, talking to families and friends of the fallen and hearing the stories of their fallen loved ones.
Brown said he overheard a conversation between Mattis and the father of a Marine.
“An old man visiting his Marine son’s grave told Mattis that he was his boy’s hero; the Warrior Monk smiled sadly and said that the old man’s son was one of his,” Brown posted to Facebook.
“James Mattis is one of those living legends who transcends politics and ideology,” Brown wrote in the post. “His job is his life, and that job is the welfare of this country and its service members. This Veterans Day, I send a special thanks to James Mattis, for not taking today off.”
Mattis is a retired Marie Corps general who commanded I Marine Expeditionary Force, U.S. Marine Forces Central Command and 1st Marine Division during the Iraq War. Several service members that he commanded are buried at Section 60.
This is the full text of what Brown experienced and wrote on Facebook:
This morning, I visited a quiet, out-of-the-way plot of Arlington National Cemetery known as Section 60. Being Veterans Day, the Cemetery was packed with tourists and volunteers, schoolchildren and general well-wishers. The crowds at Arlington’s main gate jostled shoulder-to-shoulder to see the Tomb of the Unknowns, or visit Kennedy’s Eternal Flame. Some had arms full of flags to plant, row by row, stone by stone.
These aren’t the people you see at Section 60.
Section 60 is a newer plot of Arlington National Cemetery, where most of the recent American casualties of war are laid to rest. I visit this plot because two men I knew were buried here, about eight rows apart. One of those men hardened me into a soldier; the other helped soften me into a leader.
While visiting their graves, I met a lone man walking the stones at Section 60. Far away from cameras and fanfare, Defense Secretary James Mattis spent his Veterans Day with the recent fallen. I watched him listen patiently to stories from surviving friends and family members. An old man visiting his Marine son’s grave told Mattis that he was his boy’s hero; the Warrior Monk smiled sadly and said that the old man’s son was one of his.
James Mattis is one of those living legends who transcends politics and ideology. His job is his life, and that job is the welfare of this country and its service members. This Veterans Day, I send a special thanks to James Mattis, for not taking today off.