Thursday, March 09, 2006

Washington, DC

At the beginning of the year I was in DC for business meetings and took some time to go to the monuments. I always enjoy getting to see them and it’s been far too long since my last visit.

I spent some time at the “Wall” which holds special significance to me. My father was a career Air Force enlisted man and my brother and I followed in his footsteps; me in the Navy (much to Pop’s chagrin) and my brother in the Air Force. As a kid growing up, during that turbulent time, I got to witness first hand the effects war had on families. We were stationed in a variety of places and I had friends whose fathers were POW’s, MIA’s and casualties of the war.

The very first time I went to the “Wall” I was in uniform and with one of my friends from the Semmes. We were in DC to try and convince our detailer to give us something other than a recruiting billet should we decide to reenlist. I wanted to teach and so did Bob. Bob eventually took a recruiting billet and I got out. We both were emotionally moved by being next to the site. I don’t really understand it, and even as I write this, the feeling comes over me. Maybe it was the age we were as the war raged on. Maybe it was the daily coverage we were exposed to on the national news with Walter Cronkite. Maybe it was the comrade in arms emotion everyone speaks about. Whatever it was it was real, it was haunting and it was very, very personal.

I’m older now and less naive. I see things differently than I did back then and while I’m not arrogant enough to say my views are right for everyone they are for me. I know more people affected by wars now. I know people affected by that war in particular even though they didn’t lose a loved one in country. But the effects on a brother that did die as a result of the war have far reaching affects even today.

Times are different today. The military, by and large, is respected and supported in an unpopular war. Veterans are treated differently and appreciated more for what they have done for the country and that’s a good thing. I think that there is a direct correlation to the monument and its impact on the American psyche.

But I think it’s true because of all of the monuments in DC. It’s laid out in such a way that you are allowed, and in some ways compelled, to appreciate the efforts of those that came before us. These are photos to pay tribute to people that made this country what it is today. It’s also a reminder that we have a duty to the fallen to make it what it should be to honor their sacrifice. In todays political climate it’s time that people realize that and make more of an effort towards the principals this country was originally built upon.

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