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Section 60 For Veteran's Day On Access Utah

Robert Poole says that “for most of the country, the longest war in the history of the United States has taken place largely out of sight, the casualties piling up in faraway Iraq and Afghanistan while normal life continued on the home front, with no war taxes, no draft notices, no gas rationing, and none of the shared sacrifice of the nation’s earlier conflicts. The one exception has been in section 60, a corner of Arlington National Cemetery, where more than 900 men and women have come to rest in the past decade.”

On Veterans Day 2014 we’ll talk with Robert Poole, whose book “Section 60: Arlington National Cemetery: Where War Comes Home” is the biography of a five-acre plot where many of those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan have been laid to rest alongside service members from earlier wars. 

Poole opens the story with preparations for Memorial Day, Arlington's biggest event, when thousands of families come to visit those buried in the 624-acre cemetery, legions of Rolling Thunder motorcyclists patrol the streets with fluttering POW flags, and service members place miniature flags before each of Arlington's graves. What emerges is a portrait of our national cemetery as a living, breathing community, and a narrative about how improvised explosive devices, suicide bombs, and enemies who blend in with local populations have changed the nature and aftermath of conflict. Several of the newest recruits for Section 60 have been brought there by suicide or post-traumatic stress disorder, a war injury newly described but dating to ancient times.

Using Section 60 as a window into the latest wars, Poole recounts stories of courage and sacrifice by fallen heroes, and explores the ways in which soldiers' comrades, friends, and families honor and remember those lost to war-carrying on with life in the aftermath of wartime tragedy.


Robert M. Poole is an editor and writer whose assignments for Smithsonian and National Geographic have taken him around the world. A native of North Carolina and a veteran journalist, his stories have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Smithsonian. In 2001 he retired as executive editor of National Geographic after a 21 year career. He is the author of “Explorers House: National Geographic and the World It Made,” and “On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery.” He is a contributing editor at Smithsonian.

Tom Williams worked as a part-time UPR announcer for a few years and joined Utah Public Radio full-time in 1996. He is a proud graduate of Uintah High School in Vernal and Utah State University (B. A. in Liberal Arts and Master of Business Administration.) He grew up in a family that regularly discussed everything from opera to religion to politics. He is interested in just about everything and loves to engage people in conversation, so you could say he has found the perfect job as host “Access Utah.” He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.