He Saw Someone Alone At Arlington Cemetery, When He Saw Who It Was He….


On Veterans Day back in 2017, U.S. Army veteran David Brown was walking around an area of Arlington National Cemetery that was far removed from the holiday crowd of tourists and volunteers. He came across an older man walking alone among the tombstones in Section 60 – where those killed in action in the Global War on Terror are laid to rest.

The man was Secretary of Defense (and retired Marine Corps General) James Mattis.

A man visited Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day and was shocked when he ran into someone he never expected to see there.

Photo Credit: U.S. CENTCOM via Wikimedia Commons, David Brown/Facebook

Mattis spent Veterans Day by walking the famed Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery and talking to the families and friends of fallen service members.

Section 60 is a newer part of the cemetery where many of the fallen from the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are buried.

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.

“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 servicemembers. This Veterans Day, I send a special thanks to James Mattis, for not taking today off.

In a culture plagued by sad news and a glaring lack of commendable behavior, Brown’s story on meeting Defense Secretary Mattis offers a glimmer of hope.

Brown talked about how he believed his meeting with the retired General would affect the morale of current service members in an interview with the Independent Journal Review.

“I think it’s important that the boots on the ground feel like there’s someone at the top who has their backs,” he said. “I’ve always heard that a leader can serve the people above him or the people below him, but rarely can he do both at once. I think every individual service member knows that General Mattis is looking out for them first.”

How could this story of humble leadership not inspire service members? One thing is for sure: it definitely inspires me.

I think it goes without saying that all of us citizens who recognize the bravery and sacrifice of our service men and women are eternally grateful, but just in case there is any doubt, on behalf of the citizenry I would like to say a huge thank you to all who have served. May we never forget the freedoms we enjoy because of your commitment.

Sources: OpposingViews, Independent Journal ReviewDavid Brown/Facebook,