Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Washington, D.C.,...

...the headquarters of freedom. I had been here once before quickly. About 10 years ago on my way to Virginia Beach, I made a quick stop, took a short work, and saw the sights from afar. I did spend a bit of time by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which actually was the main reaon I stopped.

So this year, now that I'm all settled in and looking for new adventures, and now that I have an awesome tour guide (my girlfriend, Lori) to go along, I'll be going to more such places.

This particular DC trip was on May 27th (my birthday) It was a rainy, gloomy looking day in the Gettysburg area, so we decided to go to the Holocaust Museum (described in detail below). After a few hours there, we were treated to sunny skies and warmer weather, so we went walking. We walked past the Washington Monument (someday, I'll actually get to go up it), to the WWII Veteran's Memorial, around the reflecting pool and past the Lincoln Memorial, to the Korean War Veteran's Memorial, and finally to the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial. A lot of walking was done, but it was a great way to spend the day after Memorial Day!

I had seen pictures of the WWII Memorial, but I wasn't prepared for what I saw. It was incredible! I truly was blown away, not just by the sheer size (this thing's huge), but by the amount of effort and detail that went into it. It is just too bad such a thing couldn't have been done a lot sooner so that more of the dogfaces, fly-boys, leathernecks, squids, donut-dollies, and candy-stripers could have actually got to see it! They truly deserve it!

The Korean War Memorial, while not so awesome in scope, impressed me more than I thought it would. I had seen pictures of it as well, and didn't think I would like it. I thought there should have been more. I'm glad I waited to pass judgment, though. This things is powerful in it's own way, without being over-whelming!

Then, it was on to Vietnam. The names of the 58,000 on the granite wall. Mind-boggling, to say the least. We won't dig up any old wounds here, but let's just say that we should all wonder how our country let this happen and be sure it never happens again.

An interesting sub-story to all of this happened by the portion of the Vietnam Memrorial dedicated to the women who served. If you are not familiar with it, it is a statue of three women tending to a casualty. One of the women is looking skyward, hoping to see the dustoff chopper that should be en route. The second is consoling the wounded soldier as they wait. The third has turned her head away from the whole scene, as if she knows that the person they are tending to won't suvive. As Lori and I stood taking this all in, a helicopter passed by, and we were awed by the reality. This is the sound the women were waiting to hear, and it truly was eerie!

Because this was the day after Memorial Day, there were wreaths, pictures, letters and other such items left all along all of the Memorials, even moreso than normally occurs, and it truly saddened me. So many personal stories of sacrifice. So many men and women who did not make it home (I read a story about a Red-Cross volunteer that was more sad than most of the others. She was killed by an American serviceman in Vietnam), but rather who died in service of their country. How can we ever repay their sacrifices or console their families' on their extreme loss? We can't!

As we were walking along 'the Wall', I noticed a letter from home addressed to a soldier who's first name was Duane. Kind of strange, as there were hundreds of such letters, but the only one I really noticed was his. Kind of personal as well, as he was most likely someone just like me, but someone who's life was cut short, even as mine goes on.

After the DC adventure, I als had the pleasure of being treated to dinner at the Outback in Frederick. Lori trly made sure that my birthday was a very special day!

It was a day of many emotions, and a day that made me proud to be an American! In spite of all of our gripes about politics and gas prices and so forth, we must all remember that we are blessed on a daily basis to live in the greatest country in the world! We also are blessed that many of our countrymen and women constantly are willing to fight to the death so that our way of life can continue!

If you haven't done so recently, please do two things for me - thank a veteran for their service, and say a prayer for all of our troops in harm's way. They and their families truly deserve the Lord's blessing!
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