Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Deed of Gifts Was Many Gifts of War*

Veteran's Day is kind of a tough holiday for me. Personally, the hippie in me would rather there only be one holiday for Veterans and another to honor our dead. But the amateur historian in me agrees that we should have holidays that have their origin in the Civil War and World War I. We are a country beget out of war, and if it wasn't for war (and a crazy English king), life as we know it might be very different.
Living and working where I do, I've been to the Vietnam Memorial several times on or the week of Veteran's Day. Walking along that wall; catching glimpses of a generation lost through pictures, letters to the deceased from family and loved ones, cigarettes, and other memorabilia left at the wall. Then there's the people; walking shoulder to shoulder with veterans standing at the wall looking a little lost and seeing families, loved ones embrace their vets and the groups of vets there with their fallen friends and family. The sense of loss? Almost palpable.
But after the emotional toll the wall takes, I always try to visit President Lincoln in his Greek temple. I look for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. step where he delivered the beautiful and prophetic, "I Have a Dream," address on my way up and think about the significance of that speech. Then when I reach the top, I spend a few minutes gazing at Mr. Lincoln, read the speeches on the wall and gaze at the city. I think briefly of the movie, "The Wedding Crashers," but mostly try to process again all I've seen and felt and give thanks for this great, young, country of mine.
In recent years, my thoughts on Veteran's Day drift to my youngest brother. He's an officer in the Army and is on active duty. I'm very proud of him and the choice he made to serve in this army.

Smokey, Steve, and my dad at Steven's Commision Ceremony. December, 2007.

*A line from "The Gift Outright" by Robert Frost

1 comment:

Sparklebot said...

I have no family members (except grandpas) who have served in the military. I think the sacrifice is brought home more to people like you who have that family reminder.

Thanks to your brother! and to all our armed forces.