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Section 60: America's Fallen Soldiers

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Section 60: America's Fallen Soldiers


Section 60: America's Fallen Soldiers

Section 60: America's Fallen Soldiers

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

More than 3,000 United States troops have perished in the Iraq war. Many are buried in Section 60 of the historic Arlington National Cemetery. Loved ones reflect on their fallen heroes.


We want to return now to our observance of Memorial Day. As we've said previously in the broadcast, more than 3,000 U.S. troops have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of them are laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. They are buried in Section 60. It is a place of somber refection where there's little distance between the past and the present. On this Memorial Day, we take you to Section 60. Here are some memories of the fallen.

Ms. RHONDA CAVANAUGH(ph): My name is Rhonda Cavanaugh, mother of Eric Matthew Cavanaugh(ph), Army soldier here in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery. I usually come up on Sundays with my mother, with his grandmother. But I know when I come alone I can have my true emotions come out, whereas when I bring my children or my mother, I feel like I have to be the brave, strong one for them. So it's kind of nice to be able come up once in a while and be on my own.

He loved life, he loved to play guitar, he loved music, he loved his family, and that's why he chose to go in the military. He wanted to be able to protect his family, his friends, and his country, and that's why he chose to go into the Army. I have his favorite drink, Jack Daniels - I'm responsible for this little dead patch of grass because I always pour some out for him whenever I come. And so sometimes I'll leave a cigarette lit here for him. I always pour out a little bit of Jack Daniels for him. I just - I leave this for him. That's his. I keep that bottle just for him. And, you know, he earned it. He earned it.

Major ALEXANDER BULLOCK(ph) (U.S. Army): My name is Major Alexander Bullock. I'm here visiting First Sergeant Christopher Rafferty(ph), who was my first sergeant in Iraq. You know, he was an absolute, consummate professional. He's one of those guys that no matter what was going on, his uniform always looked clean. Like even in a middle of combat his uniform looked clean, he always was squared away. He always knew what to do. Really a very talented individual, and I learned so much from him. I'm still learning from him.

It's a very peaceful feeling being here. There's an understanding with no uncertainty that, you know, I'm going to spend the next several thousand years in this lot. And seeing some of my guys that have preceded me and looking out over the open field of where the rest of us will eventually be is very calming. But when you start walking through this end of it, you start seeing guys like, okay, I knew Captain Eggers(ph), you know. I knew Captain Caan(ph), he was on my brigade when he was killed. I knew Corporal Chris Kinney(ph) was in my brigade, he was killed when a Humvee rolled over. So again, when you get on this end, it is a little more somber.

Ms. PETRA GARIUS(ph): I'm Petra Garius. I'm here visiting my son, Sergeant Michael Garagus(ph). He died in Iraq, and he died on January 27th and we buried him here in Arlington. And we brought him flowers and pictures, pictures of him and his son, him and his brother, and then me and him dancing at his wedding, and then the picture of him on the top of his wedding day with the greatest smile ever.

He was always happy. He loved everybody. He loved meeting people, and he was always the center of attention. He loved sports. He loved the Seattle Seahawks. Oh, my gosh, he just totally flipped out on them - stood in line for three hours just to get Matt Hasselbeck to sign eight items for me and him. So me and Mike have identical matching hats with Matt's signatures on them. So one of them I got to put in his coffin with him and I have the other one. So the next time we go the games, I'll have Mike with me because I'll have his hat.

This is amazing for him to be with all of his comrades. He picked this place. He put it in his will. It's just amazing to come here and see it, because when we buried him, he was the only one there. From this point on there was nothing, and there was no row right here. Yeah, so there's 36 or 38 more since we buried him. Now, we buried him February 12. And at least you feel like you're not alone, you don't wish this on anybody at all in the row. But if it's going to happen, at least you have other people that's happened to. I'm not coping with it, not yet. That's why we're here.

(Unintelligible) still back on the first day of the phone call of getting told that he was gone by his wife, and then the knock on the door the next morning at 6:20 in the morning. I'm still stuck on those days. So I'm here trying to move on, trying to get some kind of closure going. I don't know if it's going to happen, but we're going to try.

Ms. CLAUDETTE ANDERSON(ph): My name is Claudette Anderson.

Mr. NORMAN W. ANDERSON(ph): Norman W. Anderson.

Ms. ANDERSON: We're here to visit our grandson, Norman W. Anderson III(ph), that was killed in Iraq. He was killed…

Mr. ANDERSON: October the 19th, 2005. They were on a street patrol when they were going house to house. And he was like the squad leader and they were walking down the street and they heard an engine roaring, and he ran his man away and one man stayed with him and he took a position and shot the driver of the car and the car rolled down and blew up next to him.

Ms. ANDERSON: We brought him some silk flowers with the ribbon that says: We love you, honey.

Mr. ANDERSON: We went down to see him when he left.

Ms. ANDERSON: And I told him to be careful, and he says, nothing's going to happen to me mamam(ph).

Mr. ANDERSON: And I walked with him and held onto him. I just had a feeling when he got on the bus that I wasn't going to see him again. I don't know why. It all comes back very vividly. He was just a great guy, that's all.

MARTIN: Remembering Private Eric Cavanaugh, Sergeant Christopher Rafferty, Sergeant Michael Garagus and Lance Corporal Norman Anderson III.

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