Monday, November 14, 2005

Never forget

I spent the latter part of last week in our nation's capital. It was just the place to be on Veterans Day.

The district always gets to me. Maybe it's the memorials. Maybe it's seeing the Capitol and the White House so up close and personal. I don't know.

There is much to be cynical about in the Beltway these days. But for this trip I didn't think about politics. I thought about history. I thought about the sacrifices that were made so I could live in freedom. I thought about those who gave, as Lincoln put it, the last full measure of devotion for this country.

I couldn't help but feel patriotic. It's a nice feeling. There is much about this country to love.

I met with a band of brothers --- former Marines who served together in Vietnam. Much has been written about that war. Some of it good, some not so good.

Regardless of what you might think about that war, those veterans are heroes. All veterans are. We paused at The Wall to remember their sacrifice.

Halls guy Brian Blakely found his brother's name etched on The Wall. A Red Cross volunteer made him a rubbing. Bruce was killed June 8, 1970, a victim of friendly fire.

His fellow Marines from Kilo Company were there. Some gave Brian hugs. Others took photos of the names of other fallen buddies. It was an emotional moment.

I thought about what it must have been like to be a teenager in a foreign land shooting at an enemy that was sometimes hard to determine. Kilo Company spent the war stuck between Charlie Ridge and Arizona Territory --- in a place one of them called a shit sandwich.

Their job was to cut the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong supply lines, to make sure supplies didn't reach DaNang. They did their job. They did it well.

Sometimes I think most people my age and younger (and maybe some older folks, too) tend to have an egocentric view of history --- anything that happened before they were born just doesn't mean much.

But we should never forget Vietnam. Or the Gulf War. Or Korea. World War II. World War I. The Spanish-American War. The Civil War. The War of 1812. The Revolution.

We should never forget the sacrifices that were made in the name of freedom. We should never forget the service of brave soliders. We should never forget both those who made it home and those who didn't.

We should never, ever forget.

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