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A Memorial Day Memory Serves Thanks on Veterans' Day

I have never served in a war.

The closest I got was when President Jimmy Carter announced that 18 year olds would have to register for the draft.

I was 19 going on 20 at the time.

Still I have veterans who served in wars.

My father-in-law served in both World War II and Korea. My brother in law served in the first Gulf War. And my first cousin flew the planes that dropped the bombs in the Vietnam War in Vietnam.

For me, I have been to two major war memorials.

In 2004, my wife, daughter and I traveled to Hawaii and I visited the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor.

But in 1986, my mother and I visited the Vietnam Memorial Wall on Memorial Day. Vietnam_veterans_wall_satellite_image

As I approached the wall, I admired the architecture of the 246 foot, 9 inches (75 m) long wall.

I got closer and looked at the people scratching names of relatives and friends who were MIA or who died in combat.

As I got to the bowels of the wall, something hit me and made the hairs on my neck stand up.

There were hundreds of people at the wall and you could hear a pin drop.

People quietly etched out names of the people with pencil and paper in hand.

Cigarettes and flowers lined the base of the wall.

And it was then, that I realized something: Sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and relatives died in that war and they were not forgotten. Vietnam wall

To live in the Vietnam Era was to realize that soldiers coming back from war got spit on for serving in a unpopular war. Vietnam-war-protest

To hell with that: They served when asked, were drafted, and served their country, right or wrong.

Some of the soldiers in that war did not want to serve.

Boxer Muhammad Ali was stripped of his heavyweight boxing crown because he would not serve in the Vietnam War.

Still, that moment was powerful and one I will never forget: Being in the bowels of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and hearing an awesome silence in due respect.

Thank you, vets, from any war.



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