I recently took my son Joey back to his Marine Corps barracks at 8th & I in Washington DC. Many of you have read my past blog posts of Joey, the Marine Corp, and pride that I have of my country. Vince and I only had a couple of hours to do some site seeing with Joey before we headed back home to our little farm in Northern Pa.
I hadn’t been there since I was a little girl and a lot of the monuments are new since then. The one that I really wanted to see more than any other one was the Vietnam Veterans’ War Memorial. I had read so much about it and saw many pictures.
When we walked into the memorial the crowd seemed to immediately hush. Many were looking at the names on the wall. Others were praying and leaving notes to long since passed buddies, family members, and fallen heros. I came upon this tribute. It was so profound and brought tears to my eyes. I wanted to share it with world and those of you that will never get to see the memorial.
This is what the letter reads…
Leaving my boots here today – October 2008
I am leaving my boots at the Washington D.C. Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial today. Not the last pair I had because the Army kept changing our boot styles, but a pair I wore that I still spit shined from time to time. The mot recent style doesn’t require spit shinning and really represents another time period of our country’s conflicts and challenges from the pair of boots I leave today.
Bruce Truhler, Gregory Yeager, Richard Klinkenberg, Raymond Krekelberg and William Skaggs, I am done. I am retired from the Army today without a glance back to you all and your time and sacrifice. You are my classmates and my peers. For sure, I have known and served with many others between January of 1967 through September 2008, and I also honor them.
But you five and others whose names I either don’t remember or only remember part of their names are here on this wall. The Vietnam time period was my beginning as a Soldier and it seems fitting to me that this is my final stop.
Vietnam was the reason I came back into the Service after such a long break. Leaving the Service in early 1970 was much different from leaving the Service the second time in 2008. In 1970, I removed my uniform to avoid hostile glances and personal attack in an American airport while in 2008, people in the same airport are willing to give up first class seats when service members fly in uniform.
The circle has been closed
When I left the service the first time in 1970, there was a void. I returned to the service in 1989 and when I left this time in 2008, I felt complete. We have truly gown as a nation and have learned we can disagree with our country’s policies without attacking the individual Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine.
I wish all Vietnam-Era Veterans could experience this change. It wouldn’t put to rest all the demons and nightmares that haunt some of us, but it would allow us to know we are all Americans and part of the American adventure.
I miss you guys, I appreciate your sacrifice, and honor your memory. You five represent a significant time period for our country. I appreciate the opportunity to have served when you served and to have stood next to the many women and men I have served with during and since that time. It has been an honor for me to have been an American Soldier.
Master Sgt. Edwin Holt (retired)
United States Army, 1967-1970
United States Army National Guard, 1989-2008
Here are a few other pictures of memorials, letters, tributes, pictures, rosary beads with prayers left at the wall that day. None are less significant than the other. All have a story behind them…a true story of pain, loss, and suffering. Remember all of our heros. Those that have passed and those that walk amoung us. Remember to thank them for their service to our country and appreciate the blanket of freedom we all sleep under. While my son was home from the Marine Corp for a visit, he told me I would never imagine the amount of people that thank him for his sercie to this country every day. As a Marine Mom, I thank the nation for supporting my son and the rest of our troops. Lastly, are a few pictures that Vince, Joey and I took while visiting the other monuments and memorials that day.