A man visited Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day and was shocked when he ran into someone he never expected to see there.
David Brown, a former U.S. Army sergeant, wrote about his encounter on Facebook, explaining that he visits the cemetery to pay respects to two of his friends who were killed serving the country. His friends were buried in Section 60, an area of the cemetery reserved for more recent military members. While the other areas of the cemetery were reportedly packed with tourists, this section was different.
"It wasn't at all crowded. There were maybe a dozen visitors scattered throughout the section, each keeping to themselves near their loved ones' markers," he told Independent Journal Review.
While visiting his friends' graves, Brown encountered someone unexpected: Defense Secretary James Mattis.
"Far away from cameras and fanfare, Defense Secretary James Mattis spent his Veterans Day with the recent fallen," he wrote in his Facebook post.
"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."
Brown praised Mattis as "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," he wrote.
Many readers expressed gratitude towards Mattis for spending his Veterans Day at Arlington instead of taking the day off.
"General Mattis does the right thing, with out the fanfare that his predecessors would have arranged," one Mad World News reader commented on the site's Facebook page. "He like others before him are what we know as 'Soldiers, soldiers'. Thank you General Mattis for your service and your compassion."
"A beautiful story and glad you shared," another wrote. "Thanks for being one of those that help keep our country free As for Mathis he is a man of honor and a caring and loving person."
"Glad you shared this story," wrote another commenter. "I am one American who appreciates and respects all of our brave men and women who serve in our military and honor those who have given their life in the fight to preserve our freedom and our way of life. God bless all the men and women who have served in our military."