Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"...Secure the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and Our Posterity..."

As I told you a couple of weeks ago, we were voluntarily bumped from our flight back to Germany so we could spend a few days [alone] in D.C. I have been there several times but had never really taken the time to visit all the monuments so that is what we did. When we were at the Vietnam Memorial, there were a few youngish guys who were walking by it as if they were walking on any sidewalk anywhere else in the city. They weren't overly loud, however, they certainly weren't being as respectful as I felt they should have been. TOIAW, on the other hand, thinks I'm a facist when it comes to these things and that I would have loved to approach the young men in question and share my thoughts with them. He's not too far off the mark there, but I did no such thing.

Our differences of opinion stem partly from the fact that we simply have different personalities but there is something else there as well. As a soldier who has been awarded the Purple Heart, been in harm's way many times including several protracted fire fights, lost a number of friends and colleagues, and daily sees the memories of his war experience in the form of scars, I believe he has more than earned the right to his own opinions. Experiences like this remind me of his tolerance and why I love him so. I can't help but think of how differnt his life would have been were it not for his father. In the late 1970's TOIAW's widowed father brought three little boys to the United States. None of them spoke English so his father went to night school to learn and during the day he was a mover in New York City hauling furniture on his back. He had been a professional in the Soviet Union but in NY he was just another manual laborer immigrant who didn't speak English. Eventually, of course, he learned Enlgish and was employed as an engineer with the city of NYC for a number of years. Believe me, TOIAW is driven, focused on his career, and committed to being a great leader but the reason behind it all is that he wants to serve and defend a nation where everyone has a right to express their own opinoins without fearing the consequences.

As we were leaving the memorial area, there was a huge (not fat, just tall and big) man sitting on a bench sobbing to his wife. He said he knew that he had traveled all this way to see the memorial but he just could not bring himself to walk closer to it. It was a very emotional scene; my heart broke for him and his wife who seemed confused as to what to say or do. I've been there. TOIAW noticed the scene as well and went over to the man, shook his hand, and talked to him for a few minutes. TOIAW did not tell me what they talked about and I did not ask but as we got further up the hill I turned around and saw the man and his wife walking towards the wall. I hope he saw the names of his friends and remembered happy things about them. I truly do...

1 comment:

Tracy said...

What a poignant story. You are married to a good man. But I know you know that already.