Saturday, November 17, 2007

Military Order of Purple Heart

We had a great bus trip to Washington, D.C. on Friday and returned home to Winston-Salem on Monday evening.

We were Military Order of Purple Heart veterans (Chapter 638), spouses, and Veterans Affairs employees from the Triad area of North Carolina in D. C. for the Veterans Day 2007 parade.

We combat wounded veterans from WWII, Korea, or Vietnam rode (or walked along side) a special Purple Heart float in the parade along Constitution Avenue on Saturday. It was a well attended parade and appreciated by the veterans. I've never heard so many "thank you" words shouted by people along the parade route. People with cameras on both sides of the street took our picture as we waved and saluted in response to their expressions of thanks.

Our chartered bus carried us to Arlington Cemetery on Sunday morning where Vice President Dick Cheney laid a wreath at the guarded tomb at the exact minute of the eleventh month, eleventh day, and eleventh hour to honor unknown and uncelebrated warriors that brought this country to its current state of freedom.

After speeches in the Memorial Amphitheater at the tomb, we lingered to watch the changing of the guard. The sergeant-in-charge marched the replacement guard into position to inspect his weapon and personal appearance in a ritual of precision movements. Before the sergeant began, he stood at attention in front of the crowd and reminded us to assume an attitude of "high respect and utmost dignity" while at this place. We followed his command and remained silent and moved about slowly and quietly.

Throughout the weekend we visited memorials of WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and Iwo Jima. Each place was a moving and awesome experience. It is amazing how each artist captured and depicted the essence of that special time in our history.

Two thousand volunteers read about thirty names each at the Vietnam Wall to enunciate names of over 58,000 KIA's inscribed on the black granite. This reading took from Wednesday through Saturday to complete. We were there on Saturday afternoon and saw the line-up of readers at the micro-phone and heard the names broadcast. I read earlier how some reader volunteers had special connections to certain names and often choked with emotion when that name of their father, grandfather, or husband was ready to be spoken.

There were many pictures, letters, poems, and other articles laid at the base of the Wall.

We split into subgroups at night and ate dinner in different restaurants and enjoyed getting to know new people on the trip from Winston-Salem.

During the return trip home on Monday, we stopped at Marine Corps Base Quantico and toured the one-year-old Marine Museum. Everyone should visit this museum to see the rich history of "the few, the proud" military organization.

Have a good week!


At 12/01/2007 1:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your military service and the high integrity you display daily!


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