Wednesday, May 23, 2012

They served. We must, too.

They served in an era when it was easy to know whether a war was just.
They lived in a time when a stint in the Army was a welcome break from the Great Depression economy.
They defeated some of the most terrifying and mean-spirited leaders in history.
And they survived not only that war but almost 70 years more and were invited to Washington, DC, to visit the memorial of their colleagues who did not.

We greeted them in the DC airport, over 100 World War II veterans, sponsored by Honor Flight Network, an organization that pays for their travel.

This plane was from South Carolina, but others today were en route from Illinois and Florida.

A brass band played patriot songs and marches.

We applauded as they walked or rolled off the airplane.
We shook their hands and said, "Thank you for your service."  We meant it, too.
Our eyes teared up as they crisply saluted us, even as the rest of their bodies moved slowly, sometimes shuffling.

We all felt like Americans again, joined in common purpose, grateful for the freedoms they secured and for our chance to live in a special country, and feeling like we all lived in a small town.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said, Paul! My dad was a vet and, so the tale goes, was locked up with his colleagues in a warehouse for 11 months while drawing the top secret maps for D-day. He hated every minute of the Army and reportedly didn't want to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery - but we put him there anyway, in the columbarium. It seemed right. I still have his flag.