Today I added a new photo album to HJ’s Facebook page: Monuments & Memorials. In addition to adding the images I’d included in The Haunting Images of Chickamauga, I added a few pics from our jaunt to Washington, D.C. from a few years back. I’d forgotten I’d had them until I started going through some old albums recently. I figured what better day than Memorial Day to add them?
When we visited D.C., I remember being astounded by the war monuments. I cried when we walked around the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Wayne’s dad had served over there. He had major health and skin probloems from coming into contact with Agent Orange. I thought about how that war changed the world in a lot of ways, especially Wayne’s fathers. He was never the same after that. (I didn’t know him before, obviously, but I saw pictures once of him before he went. He was smiling and carefree and looked happy. Even hopeful. After he returned, there was rarely a photo with him smiling in it. In its place was the ever-present beer can that became his trademark.)
The Korean War Memorial spooked me. We started walking among the statues right as dusk was falling. It made it seem like the soldiers might come to life any minute. But while we were there I thought of my dad and how he’d wanted to fight in that war. He’d been too young for World War II, but enlisted as soon as he could. Always loving planes, he joined the Air Force. A heart murmur prevented his dreams of being a pilot from becoming a reality, though.
And then there was the World War II Memorial. It was perhaps the most beautiful of them all. I thought of all my family’s tales from their memories of that time, as well as Wayne’s grandparents. His grandpa had been in the Navy and was stationed on a boat in the South Pacific. One time his grandma shared postcards he’d written her. She had me cracking up when she read one he’d saved in which the only thing she’d written was: “Next time there’s a war, I’m going and you can stay home with the kids.” (She had four and all were rather close in age.)
At any rate, I’m very grateful to all who served so I can live in a country where I’m free to believe whatever I want, say whatever I want, and do (within reason) whatever I want. I appreciate the sacrifices they’ve made and am keeping them at the forefront of my mind today.