Today, I am sharing with you something I wrote in my journal on Memorial Day last year. Our daughter visited us that weekend and we decided to take the Metro to the National Mall in DC. Of course it was very crowded that day, but it turned out to be a very memorable day for all of us. As we walked along the way, we walked through the beautiful World War II Memorial. Next to one of the names was a flag wrapped in a plastic bag with a wedding photo in it. So many stories untold. The crowds were tremendous as we got closer to the Vietnam Memorial. We got in the long line waiting our turn to pass by the wall. I noticed a small group of veterans wearing their traditional black leather vest and blue jeans with their medals and patches proudly displayed. They were probably members of "Rolling Thunder". They were lined up in front of us ready to proceed down to the wall of names for a ceremony. Among the group was a blind veteran led by another veteran who only had one leg. (All war casualties I suspect). They looked like they were all in their 50's or 60's. Standing proud, they started their formal march down to the wall. One turned around to go back to get his buddy who was still looking in the book of names to find his unit's site. His friend gently pulled him away and he followed. While I was standing there I thought of how this was just an example of not leaving his buddy behind...just like in war time. They got back into the march with their unit which was just a small group of men...maybe all that was left after the war. The progression to the wall was slow and very quiet as some were on crutches. The crowd parted to let them pass and I could see a somberness fall over the people as they observed the march. We finally made it to the long line and got to the wall. As we approached, it really struck me how many names are there...all the loss of young life. The memorabilia left along the wall...flowers, letters, pictures and one sign looking for anyone who "knew her daddy" she never got to meet. Farther along the wall, there were some of the veterans who had been in the ceremony. One of them was clinging to a wall, his arms stretched across a group of names. He was in tears, crying "here they are...all of them...my guys" and another veteran was comforting him while they both cried. Of course most of the crowd was crying at this point. Another veteran was touching every name being careful not to miss a one as he walked beside the wall. The bond between combat veterans is so strong. They are the true definition of "brothers". Those of us who haven't experienced it can only imagine the conditions and experiences they shared in a hell called war.
I have lots more I could write about this day but I think it is a time I will never forget. I can't really put into words the feelings I have each time I visit the memorials but I highly recommend the experience. It's a place where you can feel close to God.