How the Wall Moved Me
So there I was, looking at something that represented death, loss, and guilt, but also pride, honor, and brotherhood. I looked for names I didn't want to see. And found some I prayed weren't there. The sky was clear; the day was hot, and I was surrounded by memories I had struggled to avoid for a couple of decades. Then I got to the far end of the Wall and a man in a sailor's uniform and wheelchair came up to me and welcomed me home. And the tears just wouldn't wait any longer.
I'll never forget that day as long as I live. Or that first "Welcome Home". My life isn't the same. My goals have changed. I guess you could say I have gotten my priorities in order. I don't know what I expected of that visit. I didn't get 'closure'; there was no sudden end to the flashbacks. But it was a major milestone.
The biggest stumbling block was the guilt. Because I left men behind. It is amazing how many guys extended their tours or did multiple tours in a place they hated. Because when your tour was over, you walked away from the war but also from friends who might die because you left.
So I started doing volunteer work at the VA. A place I hated. Maybe that would help? Not enough. I kept looking for 'something'.
I got on the 'net and started looking around. One day, I did a search on 'POW' and 'MIA' and found Operation Just Cause. The next major milestone. Home. I'm back with people who care about what is important; honor, patriotism, dedication. I believe OJC can make a real difference. Both to the effort of getting our heroes home, and offering guys like me a place to heal. Because it is that 'something' I was looking for.
There will be another visit to the Wall. This time
it will be late at night when it's quiet and I can spend time with some
of the greatest men I have ever known. I won't be reluctant.
We have a lot to catch up on.
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