#AtoZ Challenge — H is for Honorable

A Matter of Honor

#AtoZChallenge Letter H

It was just a field trip. It promised nothing different. We were going to Washington DC with an itinerary and a tight schedule. We dubbed it the “How many monuments can you see in one day tour.” They formed a grand list, each with a paragraph describing the major points and facts, expected arrival time, expected departure time. Clean, sterile, precise. That day we would visit the Washington Monument, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

We piled in the bus and began our day. It followed the normal progression: get off the bus, look around, get back on the bus, and drive to the next location. Standard stuff. That is until we reached the last memorial on the list. Something in the air was different.

As we walked the path, a wall gently rose from the earth. A black wall, etched with names. The names of all the soldiers who never made it home. No one spoke. A hand reached out, touching the wall, tracing a name with a finger. Further along the path, we saw flowers, cards, notes reverently laid at the base of the wall. A veteran in a wheelchair placed his hand on the wall and spoke soft words to his long dead GI buddy. A son leaned forward and kissed the wall where his father’s name appeared.

Photo credit: ehpien via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

The wall stretched onward, reached high overhead, every inch packed with a soldier’s name. A soldier who had been someone’s son, grandson or brother. A soldier who was a husband, a father to at child he would never meet. Grown men cried without shame. The impact penetrated our souls. We cried for them, for the horrors they faced, for the sacrifice they made. We cried for the ones they left behind.

The silence followed us back to the bus, and the entire ride home. It was a matter of honor.

Photo via Visual Hunt

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Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

19 thoughts on “#AtoZ Challenge — H is for Honorable

  1. I remember the announcement that Maya Lin’s design would become the Viet Nam Veteran’s Memorial. It seemed groundbreaking at the time and especially so because the designer was a 21 year old woman. I haven’t seen it, but every time I read about it, I cry. It happened again just now. That emotion and sense of silent honor sure says something about the power of the design and the impact of the number of people we lost during that very difficult time in our country’s life. Thanks for this, Jo.

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  2. I did one of those whirlwind DC field trips in 8th grade, but we didn’t have time for quite so many memorials. (We were driving from Pittsburgh.) My son is doing the same – but from a much closer locale -next month. I hope he’ll get a bit more time to experience the memorials and what they mean to so many.

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  3. This was beautifully written – thank you. I’m Canadian and spent my early career working at Veterans Affairs so have spent quite a bit of time reflecting of war service and commemoration. This memorial sounds like an incredibly moving tribute to the ultimate sacrifice so many in uniform have given. Thank you again for describing it. I have never been to Washington D.C., but if I do, I know I’ll need to make a stop here.

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