On Saturday we visited Washington D.C. We were fortunate enough to have found the wonderful Walk of The Town to guide the kids on their first exploration of the Capitol. Tim Stewart was amazing! As a former educator, he was an engaging storyteller and shared things about D.C. that we never would have been privy to. The highlight for our family was his insight into the war memorials.
We first learned about the WW2 Memorial and how it came about. He explained the symbolism that surely goes unnoticed. From the deliberate design of the State pillars as if seated in order of honor based on the date of statehood – much like the placement of bridesmaids and ushers in a great wedding banquet- to the carefully placed sitelines and the symbolism that goes with it. Real tears stung my eyes as I watched proud families wheel reflective veterans through the memorial for pictures- each with a far away look in their eyes perhaps reflecting on a time long ago and fallen friends. The wall of gold stars were a somber reminder of the lives lost. It was here that Tim pointed out the World War Memorial- a simple bandstand built for a ceremony long ago, before wars were numbered.
Next we went to the Viet Nam Memorial and heard the story of conflict and controversy surrounding the design. We learned of the careful placement of names as if in the pages of a book. Look closely and you will see crosses and stars denoting those deceased and missing in action. Some stars are etched over the crosses; this occurs when remains have been identified and closure is brought to the families. Letters and memorabilia are left at the wall. Each non perishable item catalogued and stored in a warehouse. We learn about a Harley left at the wall for any “fallen brother” who would like to go for a symbolic ride. We spent time at the sculptures and thought of Auntie Lynt at what is commonly called “the Nurses Sculpture”. I had the occasion to discuss the divide that still exists in some VFWs over the Viet Nam War. Some wounds are still fresh.
We ended our tour at the Korean War Memorial, arguable the most haunting of the sites. It was amazing the hear the stories of the people portrayed in the sand-blasted etchings on the wall and learn about the woman who identified her father in a particular scene. It was here that the kids learned about their Grandfathers’ service and the heroic efforts on behalf of “a place they had never been and a people they had never met.”
Today, I would like to say thank you to all who have served and those who are still serving, honor the memories of those who have passed and offer a prayer to the families that have sacrificed for our freedom. And a special thank you to the keepers of history making sure that the stories are told and that we never forget.