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Traveling, living, loving, exploring and trying to make some semblance of sense out of this crazy world.  

 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Remembrance

It is a small pile of stone, no more than three feet high. Mounted above is a carved steel frame of oak leaves set around a simple plaque, covered with the delicate tracery of engraving, in which lives laid down for the most abstract of ideals- peace, freedom, and Liberty- are honored, and all too soon forgotten.

We are near the sea. I can smell it, hear the distant "crump" of the waves, the high keening of the gulls and the piping notes of killdeer counterpoint to the drone of locusts in the marshgrass. Driving this way, this morning, my Father and I are on our way to Chesapeake Bay, wandering the back roads, avoiding the holiday traffic, breathing in a memory of America as it was, long ago.


A long, long time ago
I can still remember
how that music
made me
smile

And I knew if I had my chance
that I could make those
people dance
and
maybe they'd be
happy
for a while



Nothing in particular had brought us to this stop, save the need to stretch legs folded long hours in the truck, conversation run through all present possibles, and the open sky and horizon calling. I spied the plaque as we rolled to a halt; darkened by age, scoured by the sand and salt winds, scarred by abuse at the hands of fools whose hearts would not know honor or valor should either wander so far afield as to visit them.

My father served, at the beginning of that strange and terrible time known euphamistically as the "Southeast Asian Conflict".   Viet Nam claimed many, far too many, of the men he trained and served with. Many of the ground troops from the southeastern mountains were placed almost directly on the firing line, vital to warfare in the dense mountain jungles. Many that came home again had already died, inside, long before they bid those green, temple-filled hills good-bye, and far too many more carried the seeds of their demise home again to fade beneath the skies of their own land.

I watched as my father traced the words with his eyes, reading aloud in a low voice the name of the Air Group commemorated there, and their dead. He sighed, and I had never in my entire life witnessed so much sadness in one human being.

Then he snapped erect, thirty-five years out of the uniform, and his salute was crisp, his head high, his face distant and proud.

"This one is for you, guys."

And in that instant, I loved my father more than any man alive.

Thank you to all the veterans, living and dead, of our military forces. Your call may be ineffable to many, but its history, and honor, remain. Our freedoms, and the beauty we too often take for granted, have been constructed and preserved on your blood and sacrifice, your undying valor and belief in the Dream.

2 comments:

  1. Brother I loved that story, It tugged on the old heart strings. Thank you for posting it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're welcome, Pyro... and thank you for your own service, as well.

    ReplyDelete

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