HISTORY BY THE NUMBERS
BY DON KENTON HENRY
The eight year old grasped the old man’s hand as they walked among the rows of headstones white as the cherry blossoms and clouds in the blue sky above. As they entered Section 12 the man’s grip grew tighter. Counting each site, beneath which lay a veteran, the boy called them out by number … 1444, 1445, 1446 . . . “Ira E. Levin, Tech 5 Infantry!” the boy read as they came upon stone 1447. They turned to face the stone. “Date of Death June 24th, 1944.” That’s your brother, grandpa!” The man said nothing but let out a long and halted sigh.
“He was only 21 years old”, said the boy. He was quick at math.
“Yes. 21 years old,” the man answered.
“I wish I’d known Uncle Ira. I wish he’d gone to Yankees games with us. It’s not fair. He shouldn’t have died, grandpa. War is stupid!”
“How many veterans do you think are buried here at Arlington, David?”
“I don’t know, grandpa” he answered as he pulled the map from the back pocket of his trousers.
“Over two hundred fifty thousand.”
“That’s so many!”
“How many of our kind were murdered in concentration camps before your uncle helped stop Hitler?”
“I don’t know, grandpa. How many?”
The boy looked up and gazed upon the rows and rows of graves.
After long seconds of silence he said, “There’s no room for them here. Can we say a prayer for Uncle Ira, grandpa?”
“Let’s say a prayer for him and all who died for us, David.”