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