The twins invited us to come to their school as the Traveling Wall was going to be there. The band was going to play and there would be a presentation. I have been apprehensive, hubby is a Vietnam Vet, the last time we went to see it, he was crushed. I wasn't ready for that again.
Tonight, was different. Tonight was a celebration and remembrance of those that served and those that didn't ever get to come home. Listening to the Mayor of Sunset Hills, humbly admit that he had not served, I didn't understand his acronyms... hard to admit since I was born and raised a military brat... but basically they wouldn't take him. His words tonight standing in front of the replica Wall, were short and jarring. Jarring because he admitted to all assembled that tonight he realized that because he had been spared someone else had been sent in his place. That he prayed it was someone in the audience that had returned, not one of the names on the wall behind him. He was choked up and in tears as he turned around and sat down. His humble thank you, spoke louder and longer than any speech he could have given.
I am a proud member of a rich military family history. In my lifetime alone my family by blood or marriage has served in every branch of the military. Have put themselves in harms way to give us the freedom and privilege that we cherish. I have several uncles that went to Vietnam, and my dear sweet hubby volunteered to go when he was just a boy really. He was determined to join the military, because no one was gonna tell him what to do (meaning his Mom), yes he found out quickly how delusional he was!!
He was also following in his older brother's footstep. Junior had proudly served in World War II, had earned five major battle medals and had been a part of the D-Day invasion at Normandy. Big shoes to try and step in. I am guessing there might have been a bit of hero worship involved for my headstrong hubby.
Hubby was in the 82nd Airborne, he found it fun (?) or necessary to jump out of perfectly good airplanes. Ironically enough the Army decided it was a better fit for him to serve on the ground and with the Navy. He was assigned to Chu Lai for the duration. From the stories he's told me he unloaded, loaded and supported a lot of troops going into far more dangerous areas than he was in. For that he was blessed.
On October 23, 1971, when I was a mere six years old, he was far across the globe, willingly fighting an unpopular war and being the typical GI counting time to coming home. That day, he lost a friend. Anthony Quint. They were standing so close to each other. One minute there, next minute gone.
None of us knows why God chooses who to call home and who he leaves behind, we aren't meant to. His reasons are his and his alone. That day he chose to call Anthony Quint, young father of a son he never saw, home. I know from many conversations that it tortures him, why he was left when that young father and friend was called home. He was single, he had no children yet, no young wife waiting at home. Yet he was left. I like to think that God knew that on the other side of the world there was a six year old that would one day grow up to need him, that he had much more he needed to do in this world. I know that isn't a rational or true thought, but I am glad that God didn't think he was ready to come home.
Tonight we heard the stories of the over 58,000 men and women that unselfishly answered when their country called out to them. Do you know the youngest on the wall was just fifteen, what a passion he must have had to have lied to answer the call from his country in need. The majority of those names on that long black wall were only eighteen when they died.
As we used a special pencil to make a rubbing of his friends name, with tears falling, he had another chance to say good bye. I had another chance to be grateful that he was standing there beside me. I am so proud to be a member of those families that have unselfishly risked all for us, the American people.
Was it an unpopular war? Or course it was, did the men and women that fought it deserve to be treated the way they were...absolutely not!! Is The Wall and its traveling replica's helping the healing. I think so.
After the ceremony tonight, hubby started shaking hands and thanking all the veterans for their service. Something he does every chance he gets. I usually stand there feeling awkward, I can't understand that special brotherhood that only veterans of war share. The gentleman who's hand he was shaking quivered slightly. As he casually told Hubby that he was a bit older than him. As they thanked each other for serving their country the World War II vet and the Vietnam vet both with tear filled eyes. I felt like an intruder, as I quietly spoke to his wife. As he turned to leave I shook his hand and thanked him for his service, as his eyes glassed over and tears ran down his cheek, he thanked me and told me to take care of my Hubby, that he was special, he was a veteran.
Fly your flag high and proud in their honor tomorrow - it's Flag Day after all!