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Friday, 22 May 2015

Memorial Day Dedication

This is a great weekend to catch up with family and see friends and even celebrate graduations. I know I'll be going to a couple of cookouts with friends to celebrate graduations and Memorial Day. I usually like to watch "Saving Private Ryan" or "We Were Soldiers" during this weekend. I might even watch "Fury." It's what I do, I watch movies to remember what Memorial Day is all about.

As I was interviewing an actor last night, he brought up the subject of the Vietnam War. I can't remember how it came about, but in that part of the conversation I mention to him that my very first interview ever was with  a Vietnam Veteran. He asked me a little about the interview, and I share some of it with him. Our conversation had shifted from being a lighthearted tone to respectful reflections of my youth.

I remember interviewing the gentleman who served in Vietnam War. A friend from church gave me his name
(they worked together at the Post Office), and said that he would agree to be interviewed by me for a school project. I was doing the interview for my history class, and I was a junior in high school. What I do remember about the interview is that he was proud to have served his country. I can't remember if he was drafted or not, but to me it doesn't matter, he served our country. He served during a war that was very much frowned upon by many, and I'm sure he probably came home to criticism. Today, it seems that Vietnam Veterans are honored more today than they were back in the 1970's, and I'm for one glad that they are.

George S. Patton...I agree with him..We should be thankful! 

I remember him saying that it wasn't all bad being over in Vietnam because there were some good days. He talked about the food he ate and things they did to entertain themselves when they weren't busy. He seemed very happy when I was speaking to him, but I clearly remember his voice changing when he talked about the war. It was like a light switch...from light to darkness; it was that noticeable in his tone. I could hear the sadness and pain in his voice. I'm sure memories were creeping up on him that he hadn't thought about in awhile. I'm sure he was thinking of his comrades that had fallen while he was there. I'm sure he was thinking of sleepless nights worrying about what the rest of the night would bring. He didn't tell me all the bad things that happened because I was probably too young to handle all his words. I do vividly remember his tone...that stayed with me.  The only thing I wish I could remember was his name, and when I find out what it is, I'll share it with all of you.

He gave me pictures to show to my class, and in some of them he was smiling. I remember them being black and white pictures. I also tried to imagine what he was thinking in the pictures. Was he truly happy in the pictures that he was smiling in? Or was he just putting a face on for the camera to truly hide how he was feeling. I'll never know. I do know that after interviewing him and sharing it with all of my class, I had a very different outlook. I truly knew in my heart that respect and gratitude should be given to those who have served and to those who are serving. I also knew that I would forever remember those who gave all for their country. That interview touched and  shaped my heart for those who put on the uniform whether they serve in the Marines, Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

Thankful for the Brave!

I know I can't begin to comprehend what a soldier goes through in war. I've relatives and friends who are serving and have served in Marines, Army, Navy, and Air Force. For me though, I've never served in the armed forces, but thankful to those who have served.For those who have served in war whether it was in WWII or in Iraq or in Vietnam, I have so much respect for all military personnel. I know that even when one comes home from war, that they have demons to fight...memories that won't go away because they are away from it. They miss their friends who were killed in battle or they're remembering their own injuries or still suffering from them.. They have scars that can be seen; they have scars in their souls that can't be seen. Some will never discuss their deepest and darkest pains. Some will never even discuss their heroic moments with anybody. Some can't because they're not here to tell us, and some are so private that they feel it is best to keep to themselves.

A number of years ago, I was able to visit Washington, D.C. with family. I know we visited all of the memorials to WWII, WWI, Korean War and other sites. The Vietnam Memorial stood out to me.
I believe that site stood out to me because of the interview with the Vietnam Veteran.
When I looked at all the names on the wall,  I couldn't begin to understand the pain and loss that so many suffered. I remember when I touched the names on the wall, I began to cry. Tears streamed down my face on that hot summer day in July as I stood there crying and hoping no one saw me cry. I knew that these were not just names but people...men and women who died serving their country.I could only imagine what their family and friends felt or their comrades in arms felt when they lost them.  Friends and relatives to this day will always remember their sacrifice. I will always remember that experience at the wall ...with my hand touching the black granite and feeling the letters of the ones who died and the ones who are still MIA.

Today, as you are celebrating with your family over Memorial Day weekend grilling hamburgers and swimming,  may you never forget why this holiday was created. It was created to remember those who have served and never made it home: MIA. It was created for those who died in battle overseas or at home (Pearl Harbor and 9/11). It was created so we might reflect and remember the price that they paid for our freedom,
Never forget. I won't . Freedom Isn't Free. 

All pictures are from Pinterest.

About Maria Rochelle

Maria is a writer of multiple genres, and author of the popular children's picture story book series Jasmine Dreams.
Find out more about Maria here →


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